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Indian rupee

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Background Information

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Indian rupee
Indian Banknotes
Indian Banknotes Coins of various denominations
ISO 4217 code INR
Central bank Reserve Bank of India
Official user(s)  India
Unofficial user(s)  Bhutan (alongside the Bhutanese ngultrum)
 Nepal (alongside the Nepalese rupee)
Inflation 7.48%, November 2010
Method WPI
Pegged by Bhutanese ngultrum (at par)
Nepalese rupee (1 INR = 1.6 NPR)
1/100 Paisa
Symbol INR
Paisa p
Formerly used symbols ₨, Rs, ৳, ૱, ௹, रु
Nickname Rupeyaa, paisa
Freq. used INR 1, 2, 5
Rarely used 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50 paise,INR 10
Freq. used INR 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000
Rarely used INR 5
Printer Reserve Bank of India
Mint India Government Mint

The Indian rupee ( Devanagari: रुपया) ( sign:INR; code: INR) is the official currency of the Republic of India. The issuance of the currency is controlled by the Reserve Bank of India.

The modern rupee is subdivided into 100 paise (singular paisa). The coins have nominal values of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25 and 50 paise as well as 1, 2, 5 and 10 rupees. The bank notes are available in nominal values of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupees. The Indian rupee symbol (INR) is derived from the Devanagari consonant "" (Ra) with an added horizontal bar.


The word Rupee is derived from the Sanskrit word रौप्य (raupya) meaning "silver" or "made of silver". Many Indian languages use this root, for example, రూపాయి (rūpāyi) in Telugu, ரூபாய் (rūbāi) in Tamil, रुपया (rupayā) in Hindi, રૂપિયો (rupiyo) in Gujarati, ರೂಪಾಯಿ (rūpāyi) in Kannada and Tulu, രൂപ (rūpā) in Malayalam and रुपये (rupaye) in Marathi. However, in West Bengal, Tripura, Mizoram, Orissa, and Assam, the Indian rupee is officially known by names derived from the word टङ्क (Tanka) which means money. Thus, the rupee is called টাকা (Taka) in Bengali, টকা (tôka) in Assamese, and ଟଙ୍କା (Tanka) in Oriya. The amount and the word "rupee" is accordingly written on Indian banknotes in several Indian languages.


On March 5, 2009 the Indian government announced a contest to create a symbol for the rupee. During the year 2010's Union Budget, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee mentioned that the proposed symbol would reflect and capture the Indian ethos and culture. Five symbols were shortlisted, and the Cabinet selected the definitive symbol created by D Udaya Kumar on July 15, 2010. The symbol is derived from the Devanagari letter ‘र’ with an additional horizontal line. The parallel lines at the top (with white space between them) make an allusion to the tricolor and also depict an equality sign which symbolizes the nation's desire to reduce economic disparity. The Indian government will try to adopt the symbol within six months in the country and globally within 18 to 24 months. Before the adoption of the symbol, the most commonly used symbols for the rupee were Rs, Re or if the text was in an Indian language, then an appropriate abbreviation in that language. The official rupee sign is included in Unicode from version 6.0, which was released on October 11, 2010.

The selection process has been challenged under the Right to Information Act in the Delhi High Court. The petitioner, Rakesh Kumar, was a participant on the competition, described the process as "full of discrepancies" and "flawed", and named the Finance Ministry and and the chairman of Indian Rupee Symbol Selection Committee as respondents.

Numeral system

In Indian English, values greater than or equal to hundred thousand Indian rupees are counted in terms of lakhs (one lakh = hundred thousand), and crores (one crore = ten million). For example, the amount INR3,25,84,729.25 is read as three crores, twenty-five lakhs, eighty-four thousand, seven hundred and twenty-nine rupees and twenty-five paise. The use of million or billion, as is standard in American or British English, is not very common.


Use in India

Rupiya released by Sher Shah Suri, 1540–1545 CE

India was one of the earliest issuers of coins (circa 6th century BC). The first "rupee" is believed to have been introduced by Sher Shah Suri (1486–1545), based on a ratio of 40 copper pieces (paisa) per rupee. Among the earliest issues of paper rupees were those by the Bank of Hindustan (1770–1832), the General Bank of Bengal and Bihar (1773–75, established by Warren Hastings) and the Bengal Bank (1784–91), amongst others. Until 1815, the Madras Presidency also issued a currency based on the fanam, with 12 fanams equal to the rupee.

Historically, the rupee, derived from the Sanskrit word raupya, which means silver, was a silver coin. This had severe consequences in the nineteenth century, when the strongest economies in the world were on the gold standard. The discovery of vast quantities of silver in the U.S. and various European colonies resulted in a decline in the relative value of silver to gold. Suddenly the standard currency of India could not buy as much from the outside world. This event was known as "the fall of the rupee".

India was not affected by the imperial order-in-council of 1825 that attempted to introduce the British sterling coinage to the British colonies. British India at that time was controlled by the British East India Company. The silver rupee continued as the currency of India throughout the entire period of the British Raj and beyond. In 1835, British India set itself firmly upon a mono-metallic silver standard based on the rupee. His decision was influenced by a letter, written in the year 1805, by Lord Liverpool that extolled the virtues of mono-metallism.

Following the Indian Mutiny in 1857, the British government took direct control of British India. Since 1851, gold sovereigns were being produced in large numbers at the Royal Mint branch in Sydney, New South Wales. In the year 1864 in an attempt to make the British gold sovereign become the 'imperial coin', the treasuries in Bombay and Calcutta were instructed to receive gold sovereigns. These gold sovereigns however never left the vaults. As was realized in the previous decade in Canada and the next year in Hong Kong, existing habits are hard to replace. Just as the British government had finally given up any hopes of replacing the rupee in India with the pound sterling, it simultaneously realized, and for the same reasons, that they could not easily replace the silver dollar in the Straits Settlements with the Indian rupee, as had been the desire of the British East India Company.

Since the great silver crisis of 1873, a growing number of nations had been adopting the gold standard. In 1898, following the recommendations of the Indian Currency Committee, British India officially adopted the gold exchange standard by pegging the rupee to the British pound sterling at a fixed value of 1 shilling 4 pence (i.e., 15 rupees = 1 pound). In 1920, the actual silver value of the rupee was increased in value to 2 shillings (10 rupees = 1 pound). In British East Africa at this time, the decision was made to replace the rupee with a florin. No such opportunity was, however, taken in British India.

In 1927, the peg was once more reduced, this time to 18 pence (13⅓ rupees = 1 pound). This peg was maintained until 1966, when the rupee was devalued and pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of 7.5 rupees = 1 dollar (at the time, the rupee became equal to 11.4 British pence). This peg lasted until the U.S. dollar devalued in 1971.

The Indian rupee replaced the Danish Indian rupee in 1845, the French Indian rupee in 1954 and the Portuguese Indian escudo in 1961. Following independence in 1947, the Indian rupee replaced all the currencies of the previously autonomous states. Some of these states had issued rupees equal to those issued by the British (such as the Travancore rupee). Other currencies included the Hyderabad rupee and the Kutch kori. Nominal value during British rule, and the first decade of independence:

  • 1 damidi(pie) = 0.520833 paise
  • 1 kani(pice) = 1.5625 paise
  • 1 paraka = 3.125 paise
  • 1 anna = 6.25 paise (1 Anna)
  • 1 beda = 12.5 paise (2 Anna)
  • 1 pavala = 25 paise (4 Anna)
  • 1 artharupee = 50 paise (8 Anna)
  • 1 rupee = 100 paise (16 Anna)

In 1957, decimalisation occurred and the rupee was divided into 100 naye paise (Hindi for "new paise"). In 1964, the initial "naye" was dropped. Many still refer to 25, 50 and 75 paise as 4, 8 and 12 annas respectively, not unlike the usage of " bit" in American English for ⅛ dollar.

The rupee on the East African coast and South Arabia

In East Africa, Arabia, and Mesopotamia the Rupee and its subsidiary coinage was current at various times. The usage of the Rupee in East Africa extended from Somalia in the north, to as far south as Natal. In Mozambique the British India rupees were overstamped, and in Kenya the British East Africa Company minted the rupee and its fractions as well as pice. The rise in the price of silver immediately after the First World War caused the rupee to rise in value to two shillings sterling. In 1920 in British East Africa, the opportunity was then taken to introduce a new florin coin, hence bringing the currency into line with sterling. Shortly after that, the Florin was split into two East African shillings. This assimilation to sterling did not however happen in British India itself. In Somalia the Italian colonial authority minted 'rupia' to exactly the same standard, and called the pice 'besa'.

The rupee in the Straits Settlements

The Straits Settlements were originally an outlier of the British East India Company. The Spanish dollar had already taken hold in the Straits Settlements by the time the British arrived in the nineteenth century, however, the East India Company tried to introduce the rupee in its place. These attempts were resisted by the locals, and by 1867 when the British government took over direct control of the Straits Settlements from the East India Company, attempts to introduce the rupee were finally abandoned.

International use

With Partition, the Pakistani rupee came into existence, initially using Indian coins and Indian currency notes simply overstamped with "Pakistan". In previous times, the Indian rupee was an official currency of other countries, including Aden, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the Trucial States, Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda, the Seychelles, and Mauritius.

The Indian government introduced the Gulf rupee, also known as the Persian Gulf rupee (XPGR), as a replacement for the Indian rupee for circulation exclusively outside the country with the Reserve Bank of India [Amendment] Act, 1 May 1959. This creation of a separate currency was an attempt to reduce the strain put on India's foreign reserves by gold smuggling. After India devalued the rupee on 6 June 1966, those countries still using it – Oman, Qatar, and the Trucial States (which became the United Arab Emirates in 1971) – replaced the Gulf rupee with their own currencies. Kuwait and Bahrain had already done so in 1961 and 1965 respectively.

The Bhutanese ngultrum is pegged at par with the Indian rupee, and both currencies are accepted in Bhutan. The Indian rupee is also accepted in towns in Nepal which lie near the border with India. However, Indian Rupee denominations of 500 and 1000 are banned in Nepal. Rupee is the currency of Sri Lanka also.


East India Company, 1862

The three Presidencies established by the British East India Company ( Bengal, Bombay and Madras) each issued their own coinages up to 1835. All three issued rupees together with fractions down to ⅛ and 116 rupee in silver. Madras also issued 2 rupees coins.

Copper denominations were more varied. Bengal issued 1 pie, ½, 1 and 2 paise. Bombay issued 1 pie, ¼, ½, 1, 1½, 2 and 4 paise. In Madras, there were copper coins for 2, 4 pies, 1, 2 and 4 paisa, with the first two denominated as ½ and 1 dub or 196 and 148 rupee. Note that Madras also issued the Madras fanam until 1815.

All three Presidencies issued gold mohurs and fractions of mohurs, including 116, ⅛, ¼ and ½ in Bengal, 115 (a gold rupee) and ⅓ (pancia) in Bombay and ¼, ⅓ and ½ in Madras.

In 1835, a single coinage for the EIC was introduced. It consisted of copper 112, ¼ and ½ anna, silver ¼, ½ and 1 rupee and gold 1 and 2 mohurs. In 1841, silver 2 annas were added, followed by copper ½ pice in 1853. The coinage of the EIC continued to be issued until 1862, even after the Company had been taken over by the Crown.

Regal issues, 1862–1947

In 1862, coins were introduced which are referred to as Regal issues. They bore the portrait of Queen Victoria and the designation "India". Denominations were 112 anna, ½ pice, ¼ and ½ anna (all in copper), 2 annas, ¼, ½ and 1 rupee (silver) and 5 and 10 rupees and 1 mohur (gold). The gold denominations ceased production in 1891 while no ½ anna coins were issued dated later than 1877.

In 1906, bronze replaced copper for the lowest three denominations and in 1907, a cupro-nickel 1 anna was introduced. In 1918 and 1919, cupro-nickel 2, 4 and 8 annas were introduced, although the 4 and 8 annas coins were only issued until 1921 and did not replace their silver equivalents. Also in 1918, the Bombay mint struck gold sovereigns and 15 rupee coins identical in size to the sovereigns as an emergency measure due to the First World War.

In the early 1940s, several changes were implemented. The 112 anna and ½ pice ceased production, the ¼ anna was changed to a bronze, holed coin, cupro-nickel and nickel-brass ½ anna coins were introduced, nickel-brass was used to produce some 1 and 2 annas coins, and the composition of the silver coins was reduced from 91.7% to 80%. The last of the regal issues were cupro-nickel ¼, ½ and 1 rupee pieces minted in 1946 and 1947.

Independent issues, predecimal, 1950–1957

India's first coins after independence were issued in 1950. They were 1 pice, ½, 1 and 2 annas, ¼, ½ and 1 rupee denominations. The sizes and compositions were the same as the final Regal issues, except for the 1 pice, which was bronze but not holed.

Independent issues, decimal, 1957-

The first decimal issues of India consisted of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 & 50 naye paise, as well as 1 rupee. The 1 naya paisa was bronze, the 2, 5 & 10 naye paise were cupro-nickel & the 25 & 50 naye paise & 1 rupee were nickel. In 1964, the word naya(e) was removed from all the coins. Between 1964 & 1967, aluminum 1, 2, 3, 5 & 10 paise were introduced. In 1968, nickel-brass 20 paise were introduced, replaced by aluminium coins in 1982. Between 1972 & 1975, cupro-nickel replaced nickel in the 25 & 50 paise as well as the 1 rupee. In 1982, cupro-nickel 2 rupees coins were introduced. In 1988, stainless steel 10, 25 & 50 paise were introduced, followed by 1 & 5 rupee coins in 1992. Recently 5 Rupee coins made from Brass are being minted by RBI

Between 2005 & 2008, new, lighter 50 paise, 1, 2 & 5 rupee coins were introduced, all struck in ferritic stainless steel. The move was prompted by the melting down of older coins whose face value was less than their scrap value.

The coins commonly in circulation are 1, 2, 5 & 10 rupees. Although they remain valid, paise coins have become increasingly rare in regular usage.

The Indian Government has decided to phase out all paise coins.

Circulating Coins
Image Value Technical parameters Description Year of
Obverse Reverse Diameter Mass Composition Shape Obverse Reverse first minting last minting
5 paise 22 mm (diagonal) 1.5 g Aluminium Diamond with curved edges Value Tractor 1957
10 paise 16 mm 2 g Ferritic stainless steel Circular Emblem of India Value 1961
20 paise 26 mm 2 g Aluminium Hexagon Emblem of India Value 1982
25 paise 19 mm 2.83 g Ferritic stainless steel Circular Emblem of India, value Rhinoceros 1988
50 paise 22 mm 3.79 g Ferritic stainless steel Circular Emblem of India Value, Map of India and Parliament of India 1988
INR1 25 mm 4.85 g Ferritic stainless steel Circular Emblem of India, value Value, Two stalks of wheat 1992
INR1 25 mm 4.85 g Ferritic stainless steel Circular Emblem of India Value, Hand showing thumb 2007
INR2 26 mm 6 g Cupro-Nickel Eleven Sided Emblem of India, Value National Integration 1982
INR2 27 mm 5.62 g Ferritic stainless steel Circular Emblem of India Value, Hand showing 2 fingers 2007
INR5 23 mm 9 g Cupro-Nickel Circular Emblem of India Value 1992
INR5 23 mm 6 g Ferritic stainless steel Circular Emblem of India Value, wavy lines 2007
INR5 23 mm 6 g Brass Circular Emblem of India Value, wavy lines 2009
INR10 28 mm 8 g Bimetallic Circular Emblem of India with value Value, wavy lines 2009
For table standards, see the coin specification table.

The coins are minted at the four locations of the India Government Mint. Note the 1, 2 & 5 rupee coins have been minted since independence. Coins minted with the "Hand Picture" are 2005 onwards.


Officially, the Indian rupee has a market determined exchange rate. However, the RBI trades actively in the USD/INR currency market to impact effective exchange rates. Thus, the currency regime in place for the Indian rupee with respect to the US dollar is a de facto controlled exchange rate. This is sometimes called a managed float. Other rates such as the EUR/INR and INR/JPY have volatilities that are typical of floating exchange rates. It should be noted, however, that unlike China, successive administrations (through RBI, the central bank) have not followed a policy of pegging the INR to a specific foreign currency at a particular exchange rate. RBI intervention in currency markets is solely to deliver low volatility in the exchange rates, and not to take a view on the rate or direction of the Indian rupee in relation to other currencies.

Also affecting convertibility is a series of customs regulations restricting the import and export of rupees. Legally, foreign nationals are forbidden from importing or exporting rupees, while Indian nationals can import and export only up to 5000 rupees at a time, and the possession of 500 and 1000 rupee notes in Nepal is prohibited.

RBI also exercises a system of capital controls in addition to the intervention (through active trading) in the currency markets. On the current account, there are no currency conversion restrictions hindering buying or selling foreign exchange (though trade barriers do exist). On the capital account, foreign institutional investors have convertibility to bring money in and out of the country and buy securities (subject to certain quantitative restrictions). Local firms are able to take capital out of the country in order to expand globally. But local households are restricted in their ability to do global diversification. However, owing to an enormous expansion of the current account and the capital account, India is increasingly moving towards de facto full convertibility.

There is some confusion regarding the interchange of the currency with gold, but the system that India follows is that money cannot be exchanged for gold, in any circumstances or any situation. Money cannot be changed into gold by the RBI. This is because it will become difficult to handle it. India follows the same principle as Great Britain and America.

  • 1991 - India began to lift restrictions on its currency. A series of reforms remove restrictions on current account transactions including trade, interest payments & remittances and on some capital assets-based transactions. Liberalized Exchange Rate Management System (LERMS), a dual exchange rate system, introduced a partial convertibility of the Rupee in March 1992.
  • 1997 - A panel set up to explore capital account convertibility recommended India move towards full convertibility by 2000, but timetable abandoned in the wake of the 1997-98 East Asian financial crisis.
  • 2006 - The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, asks the Finance Minister and the Reserve Bank of India to prepare a road map for moving towards capital account convertibility. "The "Fuller Capital Account Convertibility Report"". 2006-07-31. Retrieved 2009-01-23.

Exchange rates

Historical exchange rates

Indian rupees per currency unit, averaged over the year.
currency code 1996 2000 2004 2006 2009
U.S. dollar USD 35.444 44.952 45.340 43.954 48.76112
Canadian dollar CAD 26.002 30.283 34.914 41.098 42.92026
Euro* EUR 44.401 41.525 56.385 64.127 68.03312
Pound sterling GBP 55.389 68.119 83.084 80.633 76.38023
Swiss franc CHF 28.714 26.654 36.537 40.451 45.05846
Australian dollar AUD 27.761 26.157 33.409 36.972 38.58082
Japanese yen JPY 0.32610 0.41711 0.41945 0.42627 0.52239
Singapore dollar SGD 25.160 26.079 26.830 30.932 33.60388
*before Jan 1, 1999, European Currency Unit, code XEU

Current exchange rates

Current INR exchange rates
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