Friday, July 5, 2013



Before metrication, the government of India followed the Indian Weights and Measures Act passed in 1870 which used the British Imperial system. However, many other indigenous systems were in use in other parts of the country and this was a constant problem with government officials and the public at large.
P N Seth was the founder and secretary of the Indian Decimal Society, whose aim it was to push for the introduction of the metric system in India. P N Seth was assisted by others in the society, such as Professors Dr H L Roy, Dr S K Mitra, and P C Mahalanobis, and other leading Indian scientists. Since 1930, they advocated for discarding the old chaotic system by writing in newspapers, journals, participating in debates and distributing literature.
During the post-WW II interim government, there were attempts to introduce some standardisation in weights and measures but the conservative section of the ruling party never allowed it to be passed. Then outstanding scientific personalities and public figures were mobilised by the Indian Decimal Society. P N Seth put forward a scheme for metrification of currency on 17 January 1944, which was finally adopted in Indian Parliament in 1955.

Naye Paise song written by Rajendra Krishna beautifully picturized in


Among Jawaharlal Nehru's many ambitions for India was to make its measures metric, its thermometers Centigrade and its coinage decimal. Easier said than done. Through the length and breadth of India, there were more than 140 different systems of weights and measures. Dates and records were kept according to 30 different calendars, at least one of which, instituted more than 500 years ago with a slight miscalculation, has slipped out of phase by 23.2 days, so that Hindu dances meant for moonlit nights were often performed in total darkness. To top it all, the Indian coinage system, based on the coinage standardized by conquering British in 1835, was at least as unwieldy as that used in Britain itself.

Having already established a national calendar of twelve months (more or less comparable to the Gregorian) and threatening soon to put weights and measures on the metric system, Nehru's government chose to inaugurate a new decimal coinage. In place of the rupee (20¢), anna (1/16 rupee) and pie (1/12 anna) of the past, the new money consist solely of rupees and naye paise (literally: new coins) worth .01 rupees. The trouble was that for three years both sets of coins was to be used at once, and since there wass not always a way of translating pies or annas into a precise number of naye paise, the government has had to decree a system of what parimutuel bettors call "breakage." i.e., the rounding off of small fractions that don't count too
As the first of 610.000,000 new coins poured into the bazaars, India's newspapers carried conversion tables with instructions on how to use them. Sample: "To make a payment of 36 naye paise, you first pay 4 annas or 25 naye paise, then pay the balance of 11 naye paise by tendering 1 anna and 9 pies."

In Calcutta, where thrifty Bengalis ran wild in 1953 over a ⅓cent rise in streetcar fares, mobs rioted around the post offices when it was discovered that the price of stamps would be rounded off in favor of the government. In industrial Kanpur, bus service was tied up for hours when bus drivers discovered they could not drive and argue about fares at the same time. Mothers fretted that the new coins were too easy for kids to swallow.



From 1947 to 1950, the older coins of pre-independence were still valid. This represented the currency arrangements during the transition period up to the establishment of the Indian Republic. The Monetary System remained unchanged at One Rupee consisting of 192 pies.
·         1 Rupee = 16 Annas
·         1 Anna = 4 Pice
·         1 Pice = 3 Pies



From 1947 to 1950, the older coins of pre-independence were still valid. This represented the currency arrangements during the transition period up to the establishment of the Indian Republic. The Monetary System remained unchanged at One Rupee consisting of 192 pies.
·         1 Rupee = 16 Annas
·         1 Anna = 4 Pice
·         1 Pice = 3 Pies

1950 Anna Series – II

This series was introduced on 15th August, 1950 and represented the first coinage of Republic India. The King's Portrait was replaced by the Lion Capital of the Ashoka Pillar. A corn sheaf replaced the Tiger on the one Rupee coin. In some ways this symbolized a shift in focus to progress and prosperity. Indian motifs were incorporated on other coins. The monetary system was largely retained unchanged with one Rupee consisting of 16 Annas.
There were quite a few Coin designs that were sent for approval, however they were rejected for one reason or other. Read more about it in the pattern coin section here.
The coins were 1 Pice, ½ Anna, 1 Anna, 2 Anna, ¼ Rupee [or 4 Anna’s], ½ Rupee [or 8 Anna’s] and One Rupee. There were no Pies minted.

1957 - The Decimal Series – III

World over there was a move to adopt a decimal system for currency to facilitate easy accounting. The Indian Coinage Act in Sept 1955 was amended for the country to adopt a metric system for coinage. The Act came into force with effect from 1st April, 1957. The rupee remained unchanged in value and nomenclature. It, however, was now divided into 100 'Paisa' instead of 16 Annas or 64 Pice. For public recognition, the new decimal Paisa was termed 'Naya Paisa' till 1st June, 1964 when the term 'Naya' was dropped.
There were quite a few pattern coins / designs and denomination nomenclatures proposed. There was supposed to be even a ‘Cent’ instead of the ‘Paise’. Read more about it here.
The coins were 1 Naya Paise, 2 Naya Paise, 5 Naya Paise, 10 Naya Paise, 25 Naya Paise or ¼ Rupee [or 4 Anna’s], 50 Naya Paise or ½ Rupee [or 8 Anna’s] and One Rupee. Although the Anna word was dropped, the 25 Paise and 50 Paise matched the value in old denomination and even today are still referred by the old nomenclature in Hindi of 4 Anna for 25 Paise and 8 Anna for 50 Paise.

1964 Revised Decimal Series – IV

On 1st June, 1964 when the term 'Naya' was dropped from the denominations. All the key design remained as earlier.
There was no change in the One Rupee coin. However the One Rupee was not minted again till 1970 and it was only from 1975 when it was minted regularly and in large quantities.

1964 Onwards Aluminum Series – V

Barley after the word ‘Naya’ was dropped from the coinage, there was already another initiative going on to reduce the cost of the coins. Most of the coins in smaller denominations made of bronze, nickel-brass, cupro-nickel were gradually converted to Aluminum. This change commenced with the introduction of the new hexagonal 3 paise coin in the year 1964. The One and Two paise in 1965, 5 Paise in 1968, 10 Paise in 1971 A twenty paise coin was introduced in 1968 in Nickel Brass but did not gain much popularity and was changed to Aluminum from 1982. The 25 paise metal was changed from Nickel to Cupro-Nickel in 1972. The One Rupee metal was changed from Nickel to Cupro-Nickel from 1975 and then the size of One Rupee was reduced substantially in 1983 and a smaller coin introduced.
The 5 Paise Aluminum that was introduced in 1968 had the same design as that of the Cupro Nickel. In 1972 a new design was introduced and then in 1984 the weight of the 5 paise coin was further reduced to 1 g.
The 10 Paise was changed to Nickel Brass from Cupro Nickel in the year 1968 before changing to Aluminum in the year 1971. The size was further reduced in the year 1983.
A 20 Paise denomination was introduced for the first time in the Year 1968 in Nickel Brass and later changed to Aluminum. This is the first time that a coin had a different design. It had a Lotus flower on the Reverse along with the value. During that time there was a proposal to have all the National Symbols on the coins, i.e. National Bird, National Animal, National Flower and National Fruit. However only the National Flower made it and the others were put on hold and the proposal dropped. The minting of the 20 paise was discontinued in 1971, The 20 Paise was later redesigned in the traditional way with Aluminum in the year 1982
The 50 Paise underwent a design change in 1971 with metal being Cupro Nickel from the Pure Nickel. The gap between the Paise on top was reduced in the year 1974, the design was further changed in the year 1984.

1990’s Stainless Steel Series – VI

The inflation made the coins in lower denomination redundant. The rising cost of metal also meant that most of the Aluminum coins were melted for the metal. Thus over a period of time most of the lower denomination coins were discontinued.
Viz The Three Paise was discontinued in 1971, The One Paise in 1972, the Two Paise in 1979. The 5 paise was stopped in 1994. The 20 paise also was discontinued in the year 1994. Although the minting of these coins was stopped the de-monetization these coins was only done on 30-June-2011 along with 25 paise.
 A new series was introduced that was predominantly stainless steel. The introduction was steel began with 10 paise, 25 paise and 50 paise in 1988, the 10 paise coin size was so small that one could hardly hold them in hand. The One Rupee in Steel followed in 1992. New higher denominations got introduced, the Rs 2 was introduced in 1982 as circulation commemorative was minted in same design in 1990 and then the size reduced by 1992. The Rs 5 was introduced as a regular denomination from 1992 that was of similar size to 50 Paise, but of larger thickness. This did cause some confusion amongst people.

2004 Unity In Diversity Series – VII

For the first time in Indian Coinage History, the design of the definitive coins was given outside mint to NID [National Institute of Design] in Ahmadabad. There were 3 designs that were proposed. Related post ‘ATake of 3 Designs’
·         Unity in Diversity
·         Nritya Mudra
·         IT and Connectivity
The Unity and Diversity was selected, and this was adopted over a period for Rs 1 in 2004 followed by Rs 2 in 2005 and Rs 5 in 2006. A coin of Rs 10 denomination was also introduced. It was minted from 2005 however put into circulation only in the later part of 2009. Although a 50 paise coin was designed, it was never minted.
There was a huge controversy related to the design of these coins. Read here for more details

2008 Natya Mudra , IT & Connectivity Series – VIII

Not withstanding the controversy over the design of the Unity and Diversity series, the Natya Mudra design was adopted for coins of 50 paise, Rs 1, Rs 2 and the IT & Connectivity for Rs 5 and Rs 10.
The Natya Mudra Series had various Hand Gestures [Hasta Mudra] from the Classical Dance form ‘Bharat Natyam’ on the Reverse of the coins.
The IT & Connectivity had 2 themes, one that was a wave like pattern that depicted the fluid movement of the data and information and the other had radiating lines outside that indicated growth and connectivity.

2011 New Floral Design with Rupee Symbol Series – IX

The adoption of the Rupee Symbol for the Indian currency led to redesign of all coins [currencies as well]. As part of this effort, the size of coins was also reduced to make it more cost effective. The metal of Rs 5 coin was changed from Steel to Nickel Brass.