2018 was terrible for the rupee as it lost almost 10 percent and it fell by 2.6 percent in 2019 mainly because of the escalation in the trade war with China that led investors to take interest in the US assets. The Indian rupee has also suffered due to the persistent weakness in the economy that obstructed the recovery despite the rate cuts by the RBI and government’s supportive steps. According to a survey involving about 50 strategists, this trend is not likely to reverse anytime soon. It is expected that the rupee will fall by 1 percent in 2020 with the growing dominance of dollar.
The Indian rupee was one of the three major Asian currencies to fall down so much against the US dollar in 2019. The major reason for this downfall is the global pressure coming from rising crude prices and trade wars. The global crude prices have been rising of late and straining the country’s finances. In 2018, the prices rose to the highest in four years. India spends more to meet its fuel needs most of which are fulfilled through imports. The finances and macro-economy add to the crude price stress to sink the rupee.
The fall of Indian currency is not unique, as other currencies like Argentine Peso and Turkish Lira are also falling continuously. Moreover, the dollar has been continuously strengthening and making the rupee weaker. According to a recent report, international factors like the US-China trade war have more impact on the depreciation of the currency than domestic factors. However, the domestic impact cannot be overlooked. The increasing import bills have widened the account deficit of the country and it is expected to widen more. This has forced foreign investors to pull out of the market, dropping rupee’s value as the dollar’s demand grows with their withdrawal.
The problems responsible for such a fall of the rupee are not expected to go away in 2020 and this will not only affect growth but also the attractiveness of Indian assets. The central bank, concerned about the rise in inflation, keeps the interest rate on hold after cutting rates for five times in 2019. The government is also expected to introduce more fiscal measures in the budget in 2020 that would pressurize the currency even further. However, a part of the strategists predict that rupee can strengthen against the US dollar this year. These predictions include that of Yogesh Kalinge who accurately predicted the value of the currency at the end of 2019. He said that the rupee will remain in a tight range with the dollar with a slight bias. This prediction is based on the expectation that the Federal Reserve would maintain a favourable policy through the current year.
There are predictions that both domestic and international factors would lift the emerging currency in 2020. The cuts made by the RBI in interest rates have led to the lowest repo rate of India in the last ten years and helped lift the rupee which has fallen considerably in the last two years against the dollar and pound sterling. Hopes of a low in the rates, a strengthening stock market fuelled by prospect of higher inflation and tax cuts have helped stabilize the rupee in last few months. A co-relation between the bond yields of the government and the value of the currency says the case will go up. Despite the bad performance of the Indian currency within Asia in 2019, a recovery is expected in this year. The stabilization of bond yields would help deal with risks and the rates are not easy to ignore for investors looking for higher yields. Potential bond and equity inflows could push the rupee stronger in 2020.
The American banking giant Morgan Stanley also predicts a strong performance from the currency in 2020. According to it, the rupee offers great returns for the investors after the adjusted volatility in exchange rates. This is a major concern for traders who borrow low-rate currencies to buy others with higher rates. They earn the difference between these rates. This attractiveness of the currency is boosted by the rate cuts by the Reserve, enhancing the power of Indian assets. It predicts the rate to go down to 68.5 in June 2020 before rising back at the year-end.
Rupee, the currency of India, is issued, managed and regulated by the Reserve Bank of India. The word ‘rupee’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Rupya’ or ‘Rupayakam’ that means silver coin. It was first issued in the 1540s by Sher Shah Suri. The currency notes are printed depending on the economic growth and notes requirements. Ancient India was one of the first issuers of coins in the world and the historical rupee was a silver coin. The rupee has evolved over the centuries to current date currency that includes one, two, five and ten rupee coins with the lowest value note being that of one-rupee. Let us see some of the most interesting historical facts about the rupee.
In 1837, the Indian rupee was declared as the official currency in the Straits Settlements as it was a part of the British India. This attempt was opposed by the locals and the Spanish dollar continued circulating. The administration of the Straits Settlements was finally separated from India and the Straits dollar was made its official currency.
The Pakistani rupee came into existence after the partition of India with overstamping of the Indian currency notes with ‘Pakistan’. The Indian rupee was used as the official currency of countries like Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Aden, Kuwait, Kenya, Uganda, Mauritius and others. The government of India introduced the Gulf Rupee to be used in other countries as an attempt to reduce the strain on India’s foreign reserves. These countries later replaced the Gulf Rupee with their own currencies. The Indian rupee is still accepted in Bhutan and Nepal except the banknotes of 500 and 1000. Apart from these two countries, Zimbabwe also accepts Indian currency as legal tender.
It was in the 18th century that the process of issuing paper currency began. The first ever paper money started printing by private banks like the Bank of Bombay, Bank of Hindustan, Bank of Madras and Bank of Bengal. The government of India got the monopoly of printing the currency after the 1861 Act of Paper Currency.
The highest value Indian currency note ever introduced by the Reserve Bank of India was 10,000 rupees. It was introduced in 1938 and discontinued in 1946. The RBI reintroduced 1000, 5000 and 10,000 rupee notes in 1954 but all these high-value banknotes were finally demonetized in the year 1978.
According to the current provisions of the 1934 RBI Act, the bank can issue notes in the denominations that the government specifies. But no banknotes can be issued in denominations higher than 10,000.
Denomination of the note is printed in Hindi and English on the banknote. 15 other languages appear in the panel of banknotes to be used for printing the value of the currency note on the reverse side. These official state languages include Bengali, Gujarati, Malayalam, Sanskrit, Punjabi, Urdu, Telugu, Kashmiri, Kannada, Marathi, Nepali, Tamil, Assamese, Konkani and Oriya.
The former symbol of the Indian currency was ‘Rs.’ It got a new symbol in 2010 designed by D. Udaya Kumar. This symbol ‘ र’ is derived from the Devanagari script and is a combination of the Latin and Devanagari letters. It contains a parallel line that is drawn in such a way that it resembles the tricolor of the Indian national flag.
To help visually impaired people identify the denomination of the note, there are identification marks on the left side of the notes in the form of diamond in 1000 rupee note, circle in 500 rupee note and triangle in 100 rupee note. Identification marks are made by creating angular bleed lines with raised inks on new currency notes to help the blind. The new notes of 100 rupees have 4 bleed lines, the 500-rupee new notes have 5 bleed lines while the 2000 note has 7 bleed lines.
Currency notes are printed at four different presses located in Mysore, Nashik, Dewas and Salboni. Coins are minted at mints situated in Kolkata, Mumbai, Noida and Hyderabad.
The present series of currency notes are known as the Mahatma Gandhi series. This series was introduced in 1996.
The paper currency notes of Indian rupee are made using cotton and cotton rag. It is not paper but looks like and has a feel of paper.
The government of India issues commemorative coins on various occasions. After independence, the government minted coins imprinted with various historical and religious figures and Indian statesmen. It was in 2010 and 2011 that India first minted coins of value 75, 100 and 1000 to commemorate the Platinum Jubilee of the Reserve Bank of India, the 150 year anniversary of the birth of Rabindranath Tagore and 1000-year anniversary of the Brihadeeswarar Temple. A 100 rupee coin was minted to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Gandhiji’s return to India. A 60 rupee coin was issued in 2012 to commemorate 60 years of the Government of India Mint. In 2015, commemorative coins of value 125 were introduced to honour the birth anniversaries of B.R. Ambedkar and Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.