A photograph of a note of 20,000 Indonesian rupiah (IDR), featuring an image of Hindu god Lord Ganesha, along with former Indonesian Minister of National Education Ki Hadjar Dewantara, is being widely shared on social media.
Who shared it?: The photo of the Indonesian banknote is being shared with text saying that the country – which is a Muslim-majority country – has pictures of a Hindu deity on its currency, calling for the Indian government to adopt the same for the Indian currency.
(Archives of more posts can be seen here and here.)
What was the starting point?: Speaking during a press conference on 26 October, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to the Union government to feature photographs of Hindu deities Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi, so they could bless and "help the country's economy."
Kejriwal cited the Indonesian 20,000 rupiah banknote as an example in his address.
(Note: Kejriwal's remarks can be heard four minutes and 32 seconds into this video)
Following which posts about the Indonesian currency went viral on social media. (Archives can be seen here and here.)
But what is the truth?: While it is true that the Indonesian 20,000 rupiah banknote has had a picture of Lord Ganesha on it, the note was demonetised by the government in 2008.
When was the note first issued: The Bank of Indonesia first began circulating the note with Lord Ganesha's photo in 1998, as stated in a working paper found on the bank's website.
Is it still in use?: The Indonesian government announced the withdrawal of the note from circulation (along with three other notes) in November 2008, stating that they would "no longer be applicable as legal tender" from 31 December 2008.
Those in possession of the demonetised notes were allowed to exchange them for newer, valid tender with "additional security features" until 31 December 2018.
What the current IDR 20,000 note looks like?: The current 20,000 rupiah note, issued in 2022, features the first Governor of Sulawesi Sam Ratalungi.
It bears the denomination number on the top left, with an image of Ratalungi's face in the centre.
A similar note showing Ratalungi was also issued in 2016. Before that, the country's 20,000 rupaiah note bore an image of Ota Iskander Di Nata, a National Hero from Bandung, from 2011 to 2016.
Conclusion: Evidently, the claim that Indonesia currently uses currency bearing the likeness of Hindu deity Lord Ganesha is misleading. The photograph being shared shows a 20,000 rupiah note that was demonetised in 2008, and is no longer in use as legal tender.
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