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HomeEconomyThe life & times of Rs 2,000 currency note — a tale...

The life & times of Rs 2,000 currency note — a tale of confusion, contradictions by govt

RBI data shows the high-denomination note, meant to have safeguards against counterfeiting, was counterfeited. Brought in as part of anti-black money measure, it's now 'used to hoard cash'.

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New Delhi: The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) announcement Friday that the Rs 2,000 note would be discontinued has brought to a close the often-confounding journey of the highest denomination note India currently has.

On 8 November 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes — making up 86 per cent of currency in circulation at the time — would no longer be legal tender. A major reason given for this was the alleged hoarding of black money using these high-denomination notes. 

However, days after this announcement, the government released an even higher-denomination note — the Rs 2,000 note. Not only was this note in a new size, meaning all the ATMs in the country had to be recalibrated, but it’s high denomination was seen to be contrary to the very purpose of demonetisation.

In fact, a day after the RBI’s decision to discontinue the Rs 2,000 note, former chief economic advisor K.V. Subramanian took to Twitter Saturday to praise the decision because a large amount of cash was allegedly being hoarded in this denomination.  

Adding to the confusion was that the government claimed the Rs 2,000 note had security features that would prevent counterfeiting. However, RBI data shows that by March 2020, Rs 2,000 notes made up more than 45 per cent of all counterfeit currency by value. 

This figure has since reduced, but it was still 33 per cent as of March 2022, the latest period for which there is data.

In the midst of all this, soon after demonetisation, then economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das said a new Rs 1,000 currency note would be issued “in due course”. Four months later, in February 2017, he said the government had no plans to introduce a Rs 1,000 note. 

From answers given in Parliament and fact checks done by the Press Information Bureau (PIB), it seems to be clear that the government isn’t even sure when the RBI stopped the printing of the Rs 2,000 note. While then Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur informed the Lok Sabha in March 2020 that printing had stopped in 2019-20, the RBI said Friday it had stopped printing them in 2018-19.

The confusion doesn’t end there. As Subramanian himself has pointed out, the RBI is yet to officially say whether the Rs 2,000 notes will remain legal tender after 30 September, 2023 — the deadline after which banks will not accept the notes.

ThePrint bring to you a comprehensive timeline spanning the birth and death of the Rs 2,000 note: 

Graphic: Manisha Yadav | ThePrint
Graphic: Manisha Yadav | ThePrint


Also read: No TCS on foreign debit & credit card transactions up to Rs 7 lakh, clarifies Union govt


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