We have been questioning ourselves and our governments as to why are there a picture of Mahatma Gandhi on our currency notes. Well, it seems you won’t be asking around that question anymore, because we’ve got the answer here.
Many Indian questions the symbolism of Mahatma Gandhi on currency notes. Some people ask as to why he is the only freedom fighter to be featured on the notes. While some suggest putting other leaders in line as well, some argue to imprint godly images on the currency notes. However, everyone’s questions can be answered here.
Mahatma Gandhi was born on 2nd October, 1869. He is considered as the Father of the Nation for he has given his life in the determination of getting freedom for India from British Rule. This is why every year we celebrate 2nd October as Gandhi Jayanti. However, we never cared to search for the answers of ‘Why there is this photo of Gandhi Ji on every Indian Currency Note?’
Mahatma Gandhi Series
The first notes when Mahatma Gandhi appeared on the currency of India was back in 1996 when the then government along with Reserve Bank of India launched ‘Mahatma Gandhi Series Notes’ replacing the Ashoka Chakra and Ashoka Pillar.
The then government told that the old ones could be forged & forfeited easily because they contained symbols which could be easily copied. The news ones were developed with better technology and hard to forget. However, it was not clarified as to why Mahatma Gandhi has been considered for being on the notes.
But One Quora Guy was able to answer the question so smartly that everyone, including me and you, will comprehend with his point.
Why not anyone else?
As per the explanation provided by Aviral Shirvastav at Quora, India is a country encompassing people of a different class, caste religion, belief and governance.
If we argue that there should be people like Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose, Lal Bahadur Shastri, and much more.
If the point of printing every freedom fighter rises, then the series of the note may fall short to print each one of them. Further, if it’s about printing the legends, then the states will argue about printing state-specific legends.
Rajasthan has Maharana Pratap, Maharashtra has Shivaji, B.R. Ambedkar, Bihar got Legend Ashoka while Madhya Pradesh has Rani Laxmi Bai. Bhagat Singh from Punjab/Haryana, Rabindranath Tagore from West Bengal, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel from Gujrat & many more.
And if we talk about printing gods, then Hindu mythology let alone has enough number of gods to print on every single note. People from every religion would have a point for printing their gods on the notes. Sikhs will want Guru Govind Singh & Guru Nanak Ji while Jains & Buddhists will argue for Mahavir Swami & Gautam Buddha. Muslims will want their ideal symbolisms to be carried on the notes too.
The country of India has several religions and people from different races. India is a secular nation and everyone has the right to speak and equality. Printing of any symbol on the currency notes of India shall be conclusive to include the respect and beliefs of everyone.
Mahatma Gandhi has been a symbol of respect in the country for everyone. He is respected and adored by people of every religion, every state and every caste. It was for the first time in 1996 that a national leader’s picture was included in the currency notes. The topic was raised multiple times even in the parliamentary houses that other leaders and legends should be included in the notes as well.
However, in 2014, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley replied in written reply to the Lok Sabha saying, “A Reserve Bank of India (RBI) panel has decided against the inclusion of any other national leader’s image on banknotes saying that no other personality could better represent the ethos of the country than Mahatma Gandhi.”
(Quote Courtesy: Economic Times)
Father of the Nation
It was therefore decided that it would be better if national currency bore an image or symbolism which is very well-respected by the nation as a whole. Hence, Mahatma Gandhi is the ‘Father of the nation’ was decided to be featured on the currency note
Source of the Picture
The picture displayed on the note is not a caricature or graphic or painting or recreation, but an actual picture of Mahatma Gandhi. Yes, this is a real image of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi smiling. It was captured when he visited Lord Fredrick Pethick Lawrence to then Viceroy’s house (presently Rashtrapati Bhavan).
The moment was captured by a photographer back in 1946, almost a year before India’s Independence. However, the bad news is that till date it is not discovered that who was the photographer who captured this image. The featured face of Mahatma Gandhi was cropped and embedded on the present Indian Currency.
New Mahatma Gandhi Series
The original Mahatma Gandhi series notes were discontinued in 2016 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetization and said that Rs. 500 & Rs. 1000 notes will not be a legal tender anymore on 8th November 2016.
As a result, the New Mahatma Gandhi series was launched. This series also contained the only picture of Mahatma Gandhi followed by symbols of Indian heritage and culture depicted on the back of the notes including Konark Sun Temple, Ellora Caves, Sanchi Stupa, Hampi with chariot etc.
Author: Keshav Kothari
A young CA Aspirant who is a writer and a photographer with the zeal to convey a positive perception through his work.