Ravi Shankar Sharma is an avid collector of British India and Republic India coins. With over a decade of experience in collecting such coins, he has been a source of inspiration among the collectors of both pre and post independenent India throughout the country and abroad. His knowledge about coins, which is enviable, has been properly utilized in books such as ‘Coinage of Republic of India’ published in 1999 and the more recent ‘Standard Guide to Coin sets of India‘(2010). His regular articles contributes to various Newsletters and journals published by different Numismatic Societies across the country. Ravi is currently holding the post of the Secretary of the Numismatic Society of Calcutta.
India became independent on 15 August 1947 and was left with a legacy of non-decimal coinage. One rupee was divided into 16 annas or 64 pice, with each anna therefore equal to 4 pice. In 1957, India shifted to the decimal system, but for a short period both decimal and non-decimal coins were in circulation. To distinguish between the two pice, the coins minted between 1957 and 1964 have the legend “Naya Paisa” (“new” paisa). The denominations in circulation were 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50 (naya) paise and one rupee which remained as the same pre-decimal value. Therefore pre-decimal coins of one, half and quarter rupees could remain in circulation after decimalization.
The word “naya” was dropped in 1964. In this year a new denomination, the 3 paise, was introduced and in 1968 a 20 paise coin was minted. Both these coins however did not gain much popularity. The 1, 2 and 3 paise coins were phased out gradually in the 1970s.
In 1982 a new coin, 2 rupees, was introduced as an experiment to replace 2 rupee notes. The 2 rupee coin was not minted again till 1990, after which it was minted every year.
Stainless steel coinage of 10, 25 and 50 paise, was introduced in 1988 and in 1992, a new rupee coin was minted. This coin was smaller and lighter than the older rupee and was also made of stainless steel. In 1992, a 5 Rupees Cupronickel coin was introduced. In 2006, 10 Rupees coin was minted for the first time. The higher denomination coins were introduced due to increasing demand for change and increasing cost of printing 2, 5 and 10 rupees banknotes.
India issues several types of coins. Some special coins are minted in memory of special events or people and these are referred to as commemorative coins. Commemorative coins can be for collectors and also for general circulation. They can be found in various denominations. Some commemorative coins include coins depicting Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, B. R. Ambedkar, Rajiv Gandhi, Dnyaneshwar, 1982-Asian Games, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Subhash Chandra Bose, Sri Aurobindo, Chittaranjan Das, and Chhatrapati Shivaji.