Times of Change – 1

Last time I was in the airport bookshop, I bought a ‘management’ book of name “When my priest’s prostitute met a pickle seller, And I learned how to sell and succeed like love”, by Sanjeev Jha, a Fulbright scholar, Economics Phd, and a (rather unusual) Corporate Sultan. Lovely book. And considering that books normally cost an arm and a leg nowadays, I would say that this book is worth more than its weight in books. Much more. Its a steal. Buy it. That book is like a breezy Ranjitsighji century. Class.

I had to wait a bit for my turn at the payment counter in the bookshop, as the young lady ahead of me had bought four or five glossy magazines (The Cosmopolitan type), all of which were still inside their plastic packing – and the shopkeeper had a job to do to unwrap, pack, bill, as she waved a couple of five hundred rupee notes.She was pretty, and the money was good – and so the shopkeeper was well within his rights to make a fuddy-duddy customer holding a slim management book wait for his turn till Kingdom come.

And when I finally got my turn, I pulled out a well worn 100 rupee note. The book cost 99/- and so I got a one-rupee coin back, as change.

The rupee set me wondering. About the time when a rupee was larger in size than what it is now. Both literally and in terms of purchasing power.

There was a time when there was such a thing as a one paisa coin (one hundredth of a rupee). It was a round bronze coin. Lovely little coin. Here’s a picture.


I have seen a more ancient version which had a hole in it.

There was a two paise coin (notice the plural – ‘paise’), and five paise and ten paise coins. Bet that most kids nowadays havent seen these. Here they are


The coinage was called NP or Naye Paise, or New Paise. This was because rupee was decimalized, and the times “they were a changin’ ” from four-anna, eight-anna days….

This was around the times when primary school text books with names like “Our Model Arithmetic”, was being replaced with books like “New Maths for Class 3,4 and 5″…I remember my primary school teacher, Sri Ramamurthy, asking me, ‘what was new in New Math’…All this “New Math” had come as a bolt from the blue to him,  and he fairly spluttered and choked every time he spoke of it…(But this post is about the rupee, and its parts, and so, we’ll shelve New Math for another post….)

………..To be contd….



4 Responses to “Times of Change – 1”

  1. Srinivasa Says:

    1 paisa coin was more copper than bronze, I think, but you may be right

  2. Srinivasa Says:

    You’ve also omitted the hexagonal 3 paise coin. Look up http://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/restrospectcoins.aspx
    Go to the ‘Aluminium Series 1964 onwards’ and you’d find this 3 p coin

  3. gkamesh Says:


    pls dont reveal suspense…hainji? the butler did not do it..:-)

  4. bala Says:

    somebody beat me to it. I was about to say these coins look even earlier than the 60’s and 70’s the era of featherweight aluminum coins (which I learnt later in the early eighties that the 5 paise coins were being melted by enterprising businessmen in Ulhasnagar (made by USA) for the metal was worth more than the value of the coin..


    I do have to say that the pennis, nickles and dimes have not changed in the last 20+ years although they get you a lot less these days

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