Turns out that demonetization of notes isn’t something new. Denominations of Rs 500, Rs 1,000, Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 were demonetized in 1946 – just prior to Independence. These denominations were re-introduced from 1954 only to be demonetized again in 1978. From 1978 to 1987, our highest denomination was the humble Rs 100 note. And you know what? We did just fine.
Notes of Rs 500 were re-introduced on 23 October, 1987 with a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi. If only Gandhiji knew that his image would be widely used in corrupt dealings from here on, he might not have been as non-violent as he was. This joined the rest of the Mahatma Gandhi series of bank notes, which include the denominations of Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50 and Rs 100.
It took 22 years for the Rs 1,ooo note to make a comeback, but it finally did in 2000. Such a large denomination signalled India’s growing power on the world economic stage.
And now, in 2016, things have changed again. These are the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes. These, too, will be a part of the Mahatma Gandhi series of bank notes, but they mark a distinct switch to a currency that’s more in keeping with the times. If you haven’t already noticed, the new Rs 500 note features a modern aesthetic. But that isn’t all – flip the new Rs 2,000 note around and you’ll find the Swachh Bharat logo and a motif of Mangalyaan, depicting India’s first venture into interplanetary space. If that isn’t cool, we don’t know what is.
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