The new notes may have portraits of people never previously seen on Indian money. So far, Indian notes have featured the picture of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation; however, if stories are to be believed, this might alter shortly. The Finance Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are apparently considering placing the watermark figures of Rabindranath Tagore and APJ Abdul Kalam on a new generation of banknotes of various values. Rabindranath Tagore, hailed as one of Bengal’s greatest symbols, and India’s 11th President, APJ Abdul Kalam, often known as the Missile Man, are rumored to be competing to appear on the country’s banknotes alongside M K Gandhi.
If you’re wondering why, a move is underway to investigate the feasibility of adding watermarks of various numbers on bank notes. Different denominations of dollars, as in the United States, have pictures of some of the Founding Fathers, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Alexander Hamilton, and a few 19th century presidents, notably Abraham Lincoln.
The development so far…
The RBI and the Finance Ministry’s Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India (SPMCIL) are said to have submitted two independent sets of Gandhi, Tagore, and Kalam watermark samples to IIT-Delhi Emeritus Professor Dilip T Shahani. Sahani has been instructed to select one of the two sets and deliver it to the government for final approval.
Professor Shahani, who is investigating the watermarks, is an expert in Electromagnetic Instrumentation. The Modi administration awarded him the Padma Shri in January of this year. According to sources, in 2017, one of nine RBI internal committees formed to recommend new security features for a new series of banknotes submitted its report in 2020, proposing that, in addition to Gandhi, watermark figures of Tagore and Kalam be developed for inclusion in all currency notes except the Rs 2,000 note, whose printing had already ceased.
The RBI directed its Mysore-based Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Pvt Ltd and the SPMCIL’s Security Paper Mill in Hoshangabad to create their own sets of watermark samples in 2021. Following that, the RBI and SPMCIL sent their samples to Shahani for examination. Shahani has met with officials multiple times to review the ‘finer points’ of the samples.
PIL filed at the Calcutta High Court in 2017.
In the same year, the Calcutta high court ordered the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to explain why currency notes in the nation cannot include portraits of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose or any other prominent individual within eight weeks. This came after the bench heard Prithwish Dasgupta’s PIL. ‘Though Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru have received most of the credit for the victorious climax of the Indian liberation fight, Netaji’s contribution is no less,’ Dasgupta said in his PIL. Several papers were provided to the court to support the petitioner’s allegation.