Over the course of India’s 150-year banknote history, technological security features were introduced as relatively recent additions. Prior to that, Indian currency featured portraits of kings and queens of England.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) came into being in 1935, and took over the management of banknotes all over India. Almost a decade later, in 1944, the first security features were incorporated into the banknotes to prevent the circulation of counterfeit notes, particularly due to concerns about forged notes from Japan during World War II. Compared to the advanced security measures in use today, the early notes included security threads and an updated watermark. Soon, the currency would feature The Ashoka Lion capital located at Sarnath, which would also be adopted as the national emblem of India, symbolizing the independence of the country.
Decades after, RBI introduced new “Mahatma Gandhi series” banknotes, featuring an array of enhanced security elements. Among these advancements were latent images visible when the notes were held up to light in specific angles and the use of special inks for various texts. Additionally, the notes were designed to assist the visually-impaired with incorporated details.
After the demonetization of 500 and 1000 rupee notes in 2016, RBI launched new design bank notes, with the theme of India’s heritage sites, distinctly different in colour and size from Mahatma Gandhi series ones. The new series currency consists of notes having value of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 2000 rupees. The notes don new age security additions on both the obverse (front) and reverse (back) sides and myriad of shapes and designs on each of them.
On the obverse side, each note includes the following features:
1. A register with the denominational numeral that can be seen through.
2. The denominational numeral written in Devanagari script.
3. A center illustration of Gandhi.
4. Micro texts ‘भारत’ (India in Hindi) and ‘INDIA.’
5. A windowed demetallized security thread with inscriptions ‘भारत’ and RBI.
6. A guarantee clause, Governor’s signature and promise clause, along with the RBI logo located to the right of Gandhi’s portrait.
7. A portrait and watermark in electrotype.
8. A number panel with numbers ascending from small to large on the upper left and lower right corners.
9. The Ashoka pillar emblem on the right.
On the reverse side, the note includes the following features:
10. The year of manufacturing of the note on left.
11. The Swachh Bharat logo and slogan.
12. A panel with the list of national languages located towards the center.
13. A motif design.
14. The denominational numeral written in Devanagari script on the right.
• For 100, 200, 500, and 2000 notes, in addition to the features mentioned on the obverse and reverse side, there are additional elements on the front to enhance security:
1. A hidden image of the denominational numeral, visible when the banknote is held at line of sight at 45°.
2. The denominational numeral with the Rupee symbol (₹) for ₹ 200, ₹ 500, and ₹ 2000 in color-changing ink (green to blue) located on the bottom right.
3. Windowed security thread with inscriptions ‘भारत’ and RBI with colour shift. Only 2000 note has inscriptions of ‘भारत’ and RBI and 2000. When the note is tilted, the thread shifts color from green to blue.
4. Gandhiji’s portrait, emblem of the Ashoka Pillar, and identification signs present in intaglio or raised print for the visually defected people.
5. Identification signs with micro-text of the denominational numeral are located on the right side above the Ashoka Pillar Emblem.
200: H (raised)
500: Circle (raised)
2000: Horizontal rectangle (raised)
6. Bleed lines-
100: four angular ink lines on both the right and left edges
200: four angular ink lines with two circles in between, both on the right and left edges
500: 5 raised ink lines on left and right sides
2000: Seven angular raised lines on left and right edge
In conclusion, Indian currency incorporates a comprehensive range of salient security features to ensure its authenticity and deter counterfeiting attempts. These sophisticated measures demonstrate the Reserve Bank of India’s commitment to safeguarding the integrity of the nation’s currency and maintaining the trust of the public and the global community.
By Aindrila Ghosh