After reports about the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) plan to replace the face of Mahatma Gandhi with that of others in currency notes, the central bank has clarified that there's no such proposal in the RBI.

"There are reports in certain sections of the media that the Reserve Bank of India is considering changes to the existing currency and banknotes by replacing the face of Mahatma Gandhi with that of others. It may be noted that there is no such proposal in the Reserve Bank," says the central bank.

The RBI supplies banknotes in denominations of ₹2, ₹5, ₹10, ₹20, ₹50, ₹100, ₹200, ₹500 and ₹2,000, while coins comprise 50 paise and ₹1, ₹2, ₹5, ₹10 and ₹20 denominations.

Several media reports on Sunday, citing sources, said the finance ministry and the RBI plan to add the images of the country's late-former president APJ Abdul Kalam and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in new banknotes to be issued by the apex bank. A report said samples have also been sent to IIT-Delhi emeritus professor Dilip T Shahani, who will submit his observations to the ministry. So far, all currency notes in the country bear the image of Mahatma Gandhi. They also carry images of the Lion Capital of Ashoka Pillar.

The RBI incurred a total expenditure worth ₹4,984.8 crore on security printing during FY22. Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL) and Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Private Limited (BRBNMPL) manage the RBI's currency notes. BRBNMPL, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Reserve Bank, designs, prints and supplies banknotes. BRBNMPL achieved production of 13,350 million pieces of banknotes in 2021-22.

The Reserve Bank of India's annual report for 2021-22 shows the value of banknotes in circulation increased by 9.9% to ₹31,05,721 crore. Comparatively, the increase in currency in circulation (both value and volume terms) was 16.8% and 7.2%, respectively, during 2020-21.

The rise in banknotes in circulation, despite the government's push for digital India and various reforms in the banking and fintech industry, has been attributed to "the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, which induced renewed restrictions on movement in various parts of the country” in FY22.

The share of ₹500 banknotes, both in value and volume, increased during 2021-22 as compared to the previous year. However, the ₹2,000 banknote share continued to dip in both value and volume. In value terms, the share of these banknotes together accounted for 87.1% of the total value of banknotes in circulation as of March 31, 2022, against 85.7% on March 31, 2021. The total value of coins in circulation rose 4.1% to ₹27,970 crore in 2021-22, while its volume grew 1.3% to 12,46,298.

Meanwhile, ₹500 denomination recorded a 101.9% jump in the financial year 2021-22, while fake notes of ₹2,000 denomination surged 54.6% year-on-year in FY22. There was an increase of 16.4%, 16.5%, and 11.7% in the counterfeit notes detected in the denominations of ₹10, ₹20, and ₹200 respectively, as per the RBI.

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