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Countries where the rupee is the name of the official currency.
Silver coin of the Maurya Empire, known as Rupyarupa, with symbols of wheel and elephant. 3rd century BC.
French East India Company–issued rupee in the name of Mohammed Shah (1719–1748) for Northern India trade, cast in Pondicherry.
Indian rupees

The rupee is the common name for the currencies of India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Mauritius, Seychelles, Maldives, Indonesia (as the rupiah), and formerly those of Burma and Afghanistan.

In the Maldives, the unit of currency is known as the rufiyah, which is a cognate of the Hindi rupiya. The Indian rupees () is subdivided into one hundred paise (singular paisa) or pice. The Mauritian and Sri Lankan rupees subdivide into 100 cents. The Nepalese rupee subdivides into one hundred paisas (both singular and plural) or four sukas or two mohors.


  • Countries currently using the rupee or similar 1
  • Etymology 2
  • Value 3
  • Denominations 4
  • Symbol 5
    • Indian rupee sign 5.1
    • Alternative symbols 5.2
      • Origin 5.2.1
      • Controversy 5.2.2
  • History 6
    • East African Coast and South Arabia 6.1
    • Straits Settlements 6.2
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Countries currently using the rupee or similar

Countries Currency ISO 4217 code Its exchange rate to the US Dollar as of 2015-08-15
 India Indian rupee INR 65.130 Indian Rupees
   Nepal Nepalese rupee NPR 104.010 Nepalese Rupees
 Maldives Maldivian rufiyaa MVR 15.265 Maldivian rufiyaa
 Indonesia Indonesian rupiah IDR 13,864.95 Indonesian Rupiahs
 Pakistan Pakistani rupee PKR 101.25 Pakistani Rupees
 Sri Lanka Sri Lankan rupee LKR 134.571 Sri Lankan Rupees
 Mauritius Mauritian rupee MUR 35.4000 Mauritian Rupees
 Seychelles Seychellois rupee SCR 13.310 Seychellois Rupees


The Hindi word rūpaya is derived from the Sanskrit word rūpya, which means "wrought silver, a coin of silver",[1] in origin an adjective meaning "shapely", with a more specific meaning of "stamped, impressed", whence "coin". It is derived from the noun rūpa "shape, likeness, image". The word rūpa is being further identified as having sprung from the Dravidian (proto-Tamil) root uruppu, which means "a member of the body". [2]

Rūpya was used as a generic descriptor or a common noun for silver coins of any denomination at least since the Magadha kingdom. Rūpiya was adopted as the name of a silver coin weighing 178 grains minted in northern India by Emperor Sher Shah Suri during his brief rule between 1540 and 1545. Suri also introduced copper coins called dam and gold coins called mohur that weighed 169 grains.[3]


The history of the rupees traces back to Ancient India in circa 6th century BC. Ancient India was the earliest issuers of coins in the world,[4] along with the Chinese wen and Lydian staters. The coin has been used since then, even during the times of British India, defined as 11.66g of .917% silver with an ASW of .3437 of a Troy ounce[5] (that is, silver worth about US$10 at modern prices).[6] At the end of the 19th century, the Indian silver rupee went unto a gold exchange standard at a fixed rate of one rupee to one shilling and fourpence in British currency, or 15 rupees to 1 pound sterling.

Valuation of the rupee based on its silver content had severe consequences in the 19th century, when the strongest economies in the world were on the gold standard. The discovery of vast quantities of silver in the United States and various European colonies resulted in a decline in the relative value of silver to gold.


Formerly, the rupee (11.66 g, .917 fine silver) was divided into 16 annas, 64 paise, or 192 pies.

Each circulating coin of British India and later India, until the rupee was decimalised, had a different name in practice. A paisa was equal to two dhelas, three pies and six damaris. Other coins for two paisas (taka), two annas (dawanni), four annas (a chawanni, or a quarter of a rupee), eight annas (an atthanni, or half a rupee) were widely in use until decimalization in 1961.The names of these coins denotes the numeral of their value in annas in Urdu except taka (two paisas or half an anna). While the word taka was commonly used in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), alternatively for rupee, the two paise coin was called a taka in West Pakistan.

Tanka is an ancient Sanskrit word for money. As the value of rupee rapidly eroded over the years, minting of the fractions of decimalized rupee has been completely abandoned. Presently, bank notes and some coins of 5 and 10 rupees are rarely in use and the paper currency is the sole method of any cash transaction. All fractions of the rupee are of only historical significance and no fractions are in use at all. It is, however, interesting that a taka in West Pakistan was worth two paises while this word was used alternatively for rupee in East Pakistan. After its independence, Bangladesh started to officially call its currency "taka" (BDT) in 1971.4

Early 19th-century East India Company rupees were used in Australia for a limited period. Decimalisation occurred in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1969, in India in 1957, and in Pakistan in 1961. Thus, an Indian rupee is now divided into 100 paise. Paisa is sometimes referred to as naya paisa, meaning the "new-money" in India, a habit continued from when India became independent—when the new country introduced new currency, people used naya paisa to distinguish it from the old currency. The issuance of the Indian currency is controlled by the Reserve Bank of India, whereas in Pakistan it is controlled by State Bank of Pakistan. The most commonly used symbol for the rupee is "Rs". India adopted a new symbol () for Indian rupees on 15 July 2010.

In most parts of India, the rupee is known as rupaya, rupaye, or one of several other terms derived from the Sanskrit rupya, meaning silver. However, in the Bengali and Assamese languages, spoken in Assam, Tripura, and West Bengal, the rupee is known as a taka, and is written as such on Indian banknotes. In Odisha it is known as Tanka. In India, currency is issued in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupees.

Large denominations of rupees are often counted in lakh (100,000 = 1 lakh, 100 lakh = 1 crore/karor, 100 crore/karor = 1 Arab, 100 Arab = 1 kharab/khrab, 100 Kharab/khrab = 1 nil/neel, 100 nil/neel = 1 padma, 100 padma = 1 shankh, 100 shankh = 1 udpadha, 100 udpadha = 1 ank). Terms beyond a crore are not generally used in the context of money, e.g. an amount would be called Rs 1 lakh crore (equivalent to 1 trillion) instead of Rs 10 kharab.


Use of Indian rupee sign on a public transport ticket in Mumbai: The text is in the Marathi language.


The rupee sign "₨" is a currency sign used to represent the monetary unit of account in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mauritius, Seychelles, Pakistan and the Maldives. It resembles, and is often written as, the Latin character sequence "Rs" or "Rs."

The rupee sign is encoded in the Unicode character set at U+20A8 (some fonts, such as Microsoft Sans Serif, instead display the Unicode rupee sign erroneously as “Rp”). It is common to find a prefix before the digits denoting the rupee currency value written as "Re: 1" (for one unit), or "Rs. 140" (for more than one rupee).

The rupee sign was also formerly used to represent the Indian rupee until July 15, 2010, when it was replaced by a new currency symbol, ₹.

The rupee sign also exists in other languages. Some of them are encoded in the Unicode standard:

Rupee Sign in other languages
Language Sign in Unicode
Bengali U+09F2 bengali rupee mark (HTML )
U+09F3 bengali rupee sign (HTML )
Gujarati U+0AF1 gujarati rupee sign (HTML )
Kannada U+0CB0 kannada rupee sign (HTML )
Tamil U+0BF9 tamil rupee sign (HTML )
North Indic U+A838 north indic rupee mark (HTML )

Indian rupee sign

The Indian rupee is represented by the Indian rupee sign, ₹. The new sign is a combination of the Devanagari letter (ra) and the Latin capital letter R without its vertical bar (similar to the R rotunda). The parallel lines at the top (with white space between them) are said to make an allusion to the tricolor Indian flag.[7] and also depict an equality sign that symbolizes the nation's desire to reduce economic disparity.

Alternative symbols

"Rupee" is abbreviated as Re. (singular), Rs. (plural), and, in the case of the Indian rupee, (Indian Rupee symbol).


On 5 March 2009, the Indian government announced a contest to create a sign for the Indian rupee.[8][9] During the 2010 Union Budget, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee mentioned that the proposed sign would reflect and capture the Indian ethos and culture.[10] Five signs created by Nondita Correa-Mehrotra, Hitesh Padmashali, Shibin KK, Shahrukh J Irani, and D Udaya Kumar[11][12] had been short-listed[12] from around 3,331 responses received and one of them was to be finalized at the Union Council of Ministers of India meeting held on 24 June 2010.[13] The decision was deferred by a request of the Finance Minister,[10] and it was decided when they met again on 15 July 2010,[14] and selected the symbol created by D. Udaya Kumar, son of N. Dharmalingam, a former DMK MLA.[15]


The selection process was challenged under the Right to Information Act in the Delhi High Court. The petitioner, Rakesh Kumar, who was a participant in the competition, described the process as "full of discrepancies" and "flawed", and named the Finance Ministry and the chairman of Indian Rupee Symbol Selection Committee as respondents.[16]

On 26 November 2010, the Delhi High single bench Court dismissed the writ petition, stating there was no justifiable ground for the stated allegations.[17] On 31 March 2011 High Court divisional bench of Chief Justice and Justice Sanjiv Khanna of Delhi High Court in their judgment court allowed RTI activist Rakesh Kumar Singh to file PIL against Indian Rupee symbol selection process.

On 25 April 2012 the Delhi High court issued notice to the Government of India over the selection process for the rupee symbol and other symbols. On 11 July 2012 in a court hearing the Government did not respond to the serious charges made in PIL. After that, the Delhi High Court slammed MHA for failing to respond and asked the Government to respond within four weeks, at the next hearing, to be held on 22 August 2012.

In its 3 October 2012 order, the High Court said "last opportunity is granted to the respondent to file the counter affidavit. Let the same be filed within six weeks."

On 5 December 2012, the Delhi High Court issued notice to the Indian Government as it was not responding to the serious charges made in PIL.[18]

On 3 January 2013, taking cognizance in view of the irregularities, flaws and arbitrariness involved in the Rupee symbol and other Public Competitions, the Delhi High Court in its landmark judgement directed the Indian Government to formulate/prepare guidelines to ensure transparency, wider participation of public in Public Competitions.

On 11 April 2013 the Government of India created guidelines for conducting public competitions for design of symbols/logos.[19]


Historically, the first currency called "rupiya" was introduced around 900 BC by Mahajanapadas. The modern Indian rupee has a direct lineage from the rupiya, the silver coin, issued by Sher Shah Suri (1540—1545), continued by the Mughal rulers.[20]

The history of the Rupee traces back to Ancient India circa 6th century BC. Ancient India was one of the earliest issuers of coins in the world,[4] along with the Chinese wen and Lydian staters. The term is from rūpya, a Sanskrit term for silver coin,[21] from Sanskrit rūpá, beautiful form.[22]

Afghanistan's currency was also denominated in Afghan rupees until 1925, with each Afghan rupee subdividing into 60 paisas. Prior to the introduction of the Afghan rupee in 1891, the legal currency was the Kabuli rupee. Until the middle of the 20th century, Tibet's official currency was also known as the Tibetan rupee.[23]

The Indian rupee was the official currency of Dubai and Qatar until 1959, when India created a new Gulf rupee (also known as the "external rupee") to hinder the smuggling of gold.[24] The Gulf rupee was legal tender until 1966, when India significantly devalued the Indian rupee and a new Qatar-Dubai Riyal was established to provide economic stability.[24]

East African Coast and South Arabia

In East Africa, Arabia, and Mesopotamia, the rupee and its subsidiary coinage was current at various times. The usage of the rupee in East Africa extended from Somalia in the north, to as far south as Natal. In Mozambique, the British India rupees were overstamped, and in Kenya, the British East Africa Company minted the rupee and its fractions, as well as pice.

The rise in the price of silver immediately after the first world war caused the rupee to rise in value to two shillings sterling. In 1920 in British East Africa, the opportunity was then taken to introduce a new florin coin, hence bringing the currency into line with sterling. Shortly after that, the florin was split into two East African shillings. This assimilation to sterling did not, however, happen in British India itself. In Somalia, the Italian colonial authority minted 'rupia' to exactly the same standard, and called the pice 'besa'.

Straits Settlements

The Straits Settlements were originally an outlier of the British East India Company. The Spanish dollar had already taken hold in the Straits Settlements by the time the British arrived in the 19th century. The East India Company tried to introduce the rupee in its place. These attempts were resisted by the locals, and by 1867 when the British government took over direct control of the Straits Settlements from the East India Company, attempts to introduce the rupee were finally abandoned.

See also



  1. ^
  2. ^ The book states: Tamil noun uruppu, a member of the body, the body itself, a form — e.g., the sign of a case is called the uruppu of the case. Dr Gundert does not doubt that the Sanskrit rdpa is derived from this Dravidian uruppu, even though uriivu may be a tadbhava of rUpa. --
  3. ^ Mughal Coinage at RBI Monetary Museum. Retrieved 4 May 2008.
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ a b
  25. ^

External links

  • introduced by Sher Shah SurirupiyaPicture of original Mughal
  • New rupee symbol reflects strength of economy
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