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How Mahatma Gandhi’s Picture Got Featured On India’s Currency Notes

Mahatma Gandhi, also known as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar, Gujarat. He is fondly remembered as the 'Father of the Nation' and is known to have inspired many movements for freedom and civil rights across the world.

In India, 2 October is not only commemorated as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, but is celebrated as the International Day of Non-Violence worldwide.

Mahatma Gandhi's influence was so strong on powerful leaders and political movements that leaders including Martin Luther King Jr., James Lawson and James Bevel took inspiration from the writings of Gandhi while developing their own theories about non-violence.

The Story Goes Like This...

The actual smiling picture of Mahatma Gandhi was photographed when he was once standing next to Lord Fredrick Pethick Lawrence, a British labour politician who campaigned for women's right to vote. The photograph was captured in the year 1946 at the former viceroy house, now known as Rashtrapati Bhavan.

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Here is a timeline of how Mahatma Gandhi's picture got featured on India's currency notes.

  • The first currency note of Rs 100 having the image of Mahatma Gandhi appeared on the occasion of his birth anniversary about half a century ago.
  • Post-independence in 1947, it was felt that the British King's picture should be replaced by a picture of Mahatma Gandhi. It took quite some time for the then government to reach a consensus on the issue.
  • In 1949, the then government brought in a new design of Ashoka Pillar on a Re 1 note.
  • In 1954, high denomination notes of Rs 1,000, Rs 5,000, Rs 10,000 were reintroduced. The 1,000 currency note had the motif of Tanjore Temple, Rs 5000 had the Gateway of India and Rs 10,000 had the Ashoka Pillar picture.
  • In 1969, The Reserve Bank of India came out with a note of Rs 100 showing Mahatma Gandhi seated in the backdrop of the Sevagram Ashram.
  • In October 1987, the smiling picture of Mahatma Gandhi appeared on Rs 500 currency notes, and since then his picture has been used regularly on notes of different denominations.
  • In 1996, The Reserve Bank Of India came out with a new 'Mahatma Gandhi Series'.
Story first published: Tuesday, October 1, 2019, 18:30 [IST]
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