Facts you should know
Indian Banknotes since Independence (02 Feb 2015)

Indian Banknotes since Independence
Date: 2014-10-27

i. Ashoka Pillar Banknotes:

The first banknote issued by independent India was the one rupee note issued in 1949. While retaining the same designs the new banknotes were issued with the symbol of Lion Capital of Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath in the watermark window in place of the portrait of King George.

The name of the issuer, the denomination and the guarantee clause were printed in Hindi on the new banknotes from the year 1951. The banknotes in the denomination of `1000, `5000 and `10000 were issued in the year 1954. Banknotes in Ashoka Pillar watermark Series, in `10 denomination were issued between 1967 and 1992, ` 20 denomination in 1972 and 1975, ` 50 in 1975 and 1981, and `100 between 1967-1979. The banknotes issued during the above period, contained the symbols representing science and technology, progress, orientation to Indian Art forms. In the year 1980, the legend "Satyameva Jayate", i.e., truth alone shall prevail was incorporated under the national emblem for the first time. In October 1987, `500, banknote was introduced in October 1987 with the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi and the Ashoka Pillar watermark.

ii. Mahatma Gandhi (MG) Series 1996

The banknotes in MG Series – 1996 were issued in the denominations of ` 5, (introduced in November 2001) ` 10 (June 1996), `20 (August 2001), ` 50 (March 1997), `100 (June 1996), ` 500 (October 1997) and `1000 (November 2000). All the banknotes of this series bear the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi on the obverse (front) side, in place of symbol of Lion Capital of Ashoka Pillar, which has also been retained and shifted to the left side next to the watermark window. This means that these banknotes contain Mahatma Gandhi watermark as well as Mahatma Gandhi's portrait.

iii MG series – 2005 banknotes

MG series 2005 banknotes are issued in the denomination of `10, `20, `50, `100, `500 and `1000 and contain some additional / new security features as compared to the 1996 MG series. The `50 and `100 banknotes were issued in August 2005, followed by `500 and `1000 denominations in October 2005 and `10 and `20 in April 2006 and August 2006, respectively.

The security features in MG Series 2005 banknotes are as under:

  1. Security Thread: The silver coloured machine-readable security threadin ` 10, ` 20 and ` 50 denomination banknotes is windowed on front side and fully embedded on reverse side. The thread fluoresces in yellow on both sides under ultraviolet light. The thread appears as a continuous line from behind when held up against light. `100, `500 and `1000 denomination banknotes have machine-readable windowed security thread with colour shift from green to blue when viewed from different angles. It fluoresces in yellow on the reverse and the text will fluoresce on the obverse under ultraviolet light. Other than on `1000 banknotes, the security thread contains the words 'Bharat' in the Devanagari script and 'RBI' appearing alternately. The security thread of the ` 1000 banknote contains the inscription 'Bharat' in the Devanagari script, '1000' and 'RBI'.

  2. Intaglio Printing: The portrait of Mahatma Gandhi, Reserve Bank seal, Guarantee and promise clause, Ashoka Pillar emblem, RBI’s Governor's signature and the identification mark for the visually impaired persons are printed in improved intaglio.

  3. See through register: On the left side of the note next to the watermark window, half the numeral of each denomination (10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000) is printed on the obverse (front) and half on the reverse. The accurate back to back registration makes the numeral appear as one when viewed against light.

  4. Water Mark and electrotype watermark: The banknotes contain the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi in the watermark window with a light and shade effect and multi-directional lines. An electrotype mark showing the denominational numeral 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 respectively in each denomination banknote also appear in the watermark widow and these can be viewed better when the banknote is held against light.

  5. Optically Variable Ink (OVI): The numeral 500 & 1000 on the ` 500 and ` 1000 banknotes are printed in Optically Variable Ink viz., a colour-shifting ink. The colour of these numerals appears green when the banknotes are held flat but would change to blue when the banknotes are held at an angle.

  6. Fluorescence: The number panels of the banknotes are printed in fluorescent ink. The banknotes also have dual coloured optical fibres. Both can be seen when the banknotes are exposed to ultra-violet lamp.

  7. Latent Image: In the banknotes of ` 20 and above, the vertical band next to the (right side) Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait contains a latent image, showing the denominational value 20, 50, 100, 500 or 1000 as the case may be. The value can be seen only when the banknote is held horizontally and light allowed to fall on it at 45°; otherwise this feature appears only as a vertical band.

  8. Micro letterings: This feature appears between the vertical band and Mahatma Gandhi portrait. It contains the word ‘RBI’ in ` 10. Notes of ` 20 and above also contain the denominational value of the banknotes. This feature can be seen better under a magnifying glass.

How can one distinguish the MG series-2005 banknotes?

In addition to the security features listed above, the MG series -2005 banknotes have the year of printing on the reverse of the banknotes which is not present in the pre-2005 series.

What is the need for printing different series of banknotes?

Central banks the world over change the design of their banknotes and introduce new security features primarily to make counterfeiting difficult and to stay ahead of counterfeiters. India also follows the same policy.