NEW DELHI: One of Bengal’s greatest icons, Rabindranath Tagore, and India’s 11th President, APJ Abdul Kalam, also known as the Missile Man, are reportedly in the race to make it to the country’s banknotes alongside M K Gandhi. The Father of the Nation’s watermark figure occupies the pride of place on all denominations of Indian currency notes. However, the Finance Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are also reportedly considering using the watermark figures of Tagore and Kalam on a new series of banknotes of some denominations.
This is the first time that RBI is considering using images of famous personalities other than Mahatma Gandhi on the banknotes. The RBI and the Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India (SPMCIL), which is under the Finance Ministry, are learnt to have sent two separate sets of samples of Gandhi, Tagore and Kalam watermarks to IIT-Delhi Emeritus Professor Dilip T Shahani, who has been told to choose from the two sets and present them for final consideration by the government.
Government sources said that a final decision on picking one or all the three images will be taken at the “highest levels of the government”. According to sources, the design of the three watermark samples had official sanctions. No firm decision has yet been taken, but the move is afoot to explore possibilities of including watermarks of multiple figures on currency notes.
There is global precedence: different denominations of US dollars carry portraits of some of the Founding Fathers such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Alexander Hamilton, and a few 19th-century presidents, including Abraham Lincoln. Professor Shahani, who is examining the watermarks, specialises in Electromagnetic Instrumentation. He was conferred with the Padma Shri by the government this year.
Top government sources revealed that an RBI internal committee had submitted a report in 2020, proposing that besides Gandhi the watermark figures of Tagore and Kalam should also be developed for inclusion in all currency notes barring the `2,000 note whose printing had already stopped. Shahani has had several rounds of discussions with RBI and SPMCIL officials on the “finer aspects” of the samples.