No, Nehru Did Not Demonetise Currency Notes With Netaji’s Picture
The currency notes featuring Netaji were published before Independence, and were never legal tender.
An image of a Rupee note featuring Subhas Chandra Bose circulating online claims that the currency was demonetised by the Jawaharlal Nehru-led Congress government.
The image was posted by a Facebook page, named Modi Government, on October 22. It has been shared 14,000 times at the time of writing this article.
The text along with the image states, “नेताजी सुभास चंद्र बोस की तस्वीर वाला 5 का नोट जिसे नेहरूजी ने बंद करवा दिया था , ताकि भारतीय इस सच्चे स्वतंत्रता सेनानी को भूल जाये लेकिन इसे इतना शेयर करो की सरकार इसे वापस शुरू कर दे” (This 5 rupee note featuring Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was scrapped so that Indians forget the freedom fighter. Share this image to the extent that the government resumes printing this note).
According to the image, the note has been issued by ‘Azad Hind Bank’ and features Bose wearing his trademark cap and performing the hand salute.
Alt News found another image of a currency note featuring Bose that was posted by a Facebook user in the group ‘WE SUPPORT NARENDRA MODI’, in September this year. The post also claims the 10-rupee note was scrapped by Nehru.
Did the Nehru-led government demonetise currency featuring freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose? It did not, for the simple reason that the currency notes visible on the social media posts were never legal tender. They were issued in pre-independent India.
Azad Hind Bank
The currency notes featuring Subhas Chandra Bose were issued by the Azad Hind Bank, which can be seen inscribed on the currency note. Kanailal Basu’s book Netaji: Rediscovered states that the Azad Hind Bank was formed in Rangoon (now Yangon) in Burma (now Myanmar) in April 1944 for the purpose of organising funds to finance the war effort against the British. The bank printed Indian currency notes and managed contributions from Indians from across the world. Azad Hind Bank also finds mention in Fiery Dragons: Banks, Moneylenders and Microfinance in Burma by Sean Turnell.
There are several currency notes featuring Subhas Chandra Bose, which were issued before Independence, by the Azad Hind Bank (also known as the Bank of Independence). Some of these notes have found their way to the public domain, mainly in personal collections. The Hindu had reported in January 2010 that one such currency note had been made public.
The Telegraph, in a recent report, has stated that the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Birthplace Museum in Cuttack, Odisha, has a rare collection of coins and currency notes that were issued by the Azad Hind Bank. In fact, a rather bizarre request had been made to the Central government in 2016 when several borrowers petitioned the Finance Ministry asking to repay loans through currency issued by the Azad Hind Bank. The request followed the declassification of files related to Bose. The Economic Times quoted a government official as saying, “We have received representations from some individuals who want the currency issued by Azad Hind Bank or similar variants to be recognised as legal tender. Some of them even want their existing loans to be repaid through these currency notes.” A second official added that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had said it did not have a record of any such entity and therefore, the currency could be recognised as legal tender.
The claim that the Nehru government demonetised the currency notes featuring Subhas Chandra Bose is patently false. These notes were never recognised by the British Indian government or by the Indian government after Independence, as they were issued by the Azad Hind Bank that was established by the ‘Provisional government of free India’, set up by Bose in 1943.
Recently, a ‘letter’ of dubious authenticity claimed to have been written by Nehru calling Bose a ‘war criminal’ was shared widely on social media. Vested interests on social media have sought to portray Jawaharlal Nehru in poor light vis-a-vis Subhas Chandra Bose, outrightly accusing India’s first Prime Minister of deliberately scuttling the legacy of the freedom fighter, despite there being little evidence available in the public domain to suggest the same.
(This article was published in collaboration with AltNews)
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