14 Things You Should Know about Indian Banknotes

The Indian banknotes are money. India manufactures unique money like all other nations. Knowing the money saves many hassles. Using it regularly makes it simpler further and ups the confidence. If you plan a visit to the Indian Himalayas, you should know at least fourteen things about the banknotes.

  • 1: Cotton Notes
  • 2: Signatures
  • 3: Banknote Series
  • 4: Denominations
  • 5: ₹10,000. ₹5,000
  • 6: ₹1,000
  • 7: Language Panel

India uses paper made from cotton rags for the notes instead of plastic or polymer. However, there is a proposal for printing polymer notes for a selective denomination (₹10) and varnished banknotes (₹100).

Since a bank issues the notes, these are called banknotes. Reserve Bank of India (R.B.I.) issues the notes. The Governor of R.B.I. signs all the notes except one rupee note that is signed by Secretary, Ministry of Finance. Government of India issues one rupee note.

So far, independent India has printed the following banknote series:

      • Ashok Pillar Banknotes
      • Mahatma Gandhi (MG) Series 1996
      • Mahatma Gandhi series 2005 
      • Mahatma Gandhi (New) Series (MGNS) 2016

How many denominations of bank notes are there in India? As of writing this article, the banknotes in ten (10) denominations are in circulation: ₹1, ₹2, ₹5, ₹10, ₹20, ₹50, ₹100, ₹200, ₹500, and ₹2000.

In 1938 and 1954, India printed ₹10,000 notes that were demonetised in 1946 and 1978. Even a ₹5,000 banknote was printed in1954 although later on it was also demonetised.

In 2016, ₹1,000 note was demonetised.

Each banknote features a language panel where the denomination is written in fifteen (15) languages out of twenty two (22) languages listed in the Indian constitution.

  • 8: Number Panel
  • 9: Bundle/Packet
  • 10: Same Serial Number
  • 11: Star Series
  • 12: Security Features
  • 13: Color Scheme
  • 14: Size

The number panel has a serialised number with an alpha numeric prefix. The size of numerals ascend from left to right. The prefix consists of a numeral(s) and letter(s). The size of alpha numeric characters remains the same. The combination of letters and numerals in the prefix changes with denomination. The prefix of the banknotes of ₹50 and higher denomination consists of one (1) numeral and two (2) alphabets. The prefix of the banknotes of lower denomination (up to ₹20) consists of two (2) numerals and one (1) alphabet.

Each packet/bundle of the banknote contains one hundred (100) notes irrespective of the denomination. Banknotes are arranged serially only in new packets. Banknotes are not sequentially arranged in old note packets because it is rather impossible to recollect all notes of the same packet. 

Banknotes may share the same serial number. However, (1) signature of the governor, (2) year of printing, or (3) inset letter would be different on these banknotes.

R.B.I. prints star series notes whenever there are manufacturing errors.

All banknotes have multiple security features. However, the features may vary with banknote series. Here is a short list of security features:

        • Security Thread
        • Intaglio Printing
        • See through register
        • Water Mark and electrotype watermark
        • Colour Shifting Ink
        • Fluorescence
        • Latent Image
        • Micro letterings
        • New Numbering Pattern
        • Angular Bleed Lines and Increase in the size of Identification Marks

Each denomination has a unique color scheme. For example, ₹50 note is fluorescent blue and ₹2,000 is magenta in MGNS 2016.

The sizes vary with denomination. The size increases with an increase in denomination for the banknotes printed under MGNS 2016. For example, size of ₹500 banknote from MGNS 2016 is 66mm x 150mm and that of ₹2,000 is 16mm longer (66mm x 166mm).

July 21, 2021

  • Ganga Narayan Rath. Why isn’t India using polymer banknotes? https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/why-isnt-india-using-polymer-banknotes/article30812668.ece.
  • Issuer of Currency. https://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/FS_FAQs.aspx?Id=136&fn=2753.
  • Languages Included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. https://rajbhasha.gov.in/en/languages-included-eighth-schedule-indian-constitution
  • RBI. Know Your Bank Notes. https://paisaboltahai.rbi.org.in/rupees-five-hundred.aspx
  • RBI. Know Your Bank Notes. https://paisaboltahai.rbi.org.in/rupees-two-thousand.aspx