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Taka name of the currency of Bangladesh

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Taka name of the currency of Bangladesh. The word is derived from Sanskrit 'Tanka' which was in ancient, and even in medieval times, a denomination of silver coin of four masha weight. The term Taka was widely used in different parts of India but, of course, with different meaning. In north India, Taka was a copper coin equal to two paisa and in the south, it was an aggregate of four paisa or one anna. It was only in Bengal where Taka was taken as a sliver rupee. However, in all areas of India, Taka of Bangladesh was used largely for money in general. But Bengal was the stronghold of Taka.

Rupee was introduced by the Turko-Afghan rulers and strongly upheld by the Mughals and the British rulers. The Bengal people always called Rupee as Taka, be it of silver or of gold. Ibn Batuta noticed that in Bengal people described gold coin (dinar) as gold tanka and silver coin as silver tanka. In other words, whatever might be the metallic content of the coin, the people called it Taka. It is indeed noteworthy that the Bengali nation has borrowed two crucial things from the very heart of its history and heritage - the name of the state, Bangladesh; and the name of its currency, Taka.

The very word Tankah as the name of the denomination and value has been used for the first time in Bengal on the coins of Nasiruddin Mahmud (Delhi). All the silver coins of Bengal were of full tankah denomination and were of more or less one tola weight standard. The first "rupee" is believed to have been introduced by Sher Shah Suri (1486-1545), based on a ratio of 40 copper pieces (paisa) per rupee.

The three Presidencies established by the British East India Company (Bengal, Bombay and Madras) each issued their own coinages up to 1835. All three issued rupees together with fractions down to 1/16 rupee in silver. Copper denominations were more varied. Bengal issued 1 pie, ½, 1 and 2 paise. Bombay issued 1 pie, ¼, ½, 1, 1½, 2 and 4 paise. In Madras, there were copper coins for 2, 4 pies, 1, 2 and 4 paisa, with the first two denominated as ½ and 1 dub or 1/96 and 1/48 rupee. All three Presidencies issued gold mohurs and fractions of mohurs.

In 1862, coins were introduced which are referred to as Regal issues. They bore the portrait of Queen Victoria and the designation "India". Denominations were 1/12 anna, ½ pice, ¼ and ½ anna (all in copper), 2 annas, ¼, ½ and 1 rupee (silver) and 5 and 10 rupees and 1 mohur (gold). The gold denominations ceased production in 1891 while no ½ anna coins were issued dated later than 1877.

In 1906, bronze replaced copper for the lowest three denominations and in 1907, a cupro-nickel 1 anna was introduced. In 1918 and 1919, cupro-nickel 2, 4 and 8 annas were introduced, although the 4 and 8 annas coins were only issued until 1921 and did not replace their silver equivalents. Also in 1918, the Bombay mint struck gold sovereigns and 15 rupee coins identical in size to the sovereigns as an emergency measure due to the First World War.

In the early 1940s, several changes were implemented. The 1/12 anna and ½ pice ceased production, the ¼ anna was changed to a bronze, holed coin, cupro-nickel and nickel-brass ½ anna coins were introduced, nickel-brass was used to produce some 1 and 2 annas coins, and the composition of the silver coins was reduced from 91.7% to 80%. The last of the regal issues were cupro-nickel ¼, ½ and 1 rupee pieces minted in 1946 and 1947.

The Paper Currency Act of 1861 gave the Government the monopoly of note issue throughout the vast expanse of India, which was a considerable task. Three series of paper currencies were introduced by Bank of Bengal. These are- Victoria portrait series: The first set of British India notes were the 'Victoria Portrait' series issued in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 1000. These were unifaced, carried two language panels. The security features incorporated the watermark, the printed signature and the registration of the notes. Second series include the unifaced series was introduced in 1867 as the Victoria Portrait series was withdrawn in the wake of a spate of forgeries. These notes were issued in denominations of Rs 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 10000. The third series is known as the George V series carrying the portrait of George V introduced in 1923, and continued as an integral feature of all paper money issues of British India. These notes were issued in denominations of Rs 1, 2½, 5, 10, 50, 100, 1000, 10,000. Fourth series is known as Reserve Bank issues: The Reserve Bank of India was formally inaugurated on Monday, April 1, 1935 with its Central Office at Calcutta. The bank issued the first five rupee note bearing the portrait of George VI in 1938. This was followed by Rs. 10 in February, Rs 100 in March and Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000 in June 1938. The first Reserve Bank issues were signed by the second Governor, Sir James Taylor. During the war, the Japanese produced high-quality forgeries of the Indian currency. This necessitated a change in the watermark. The profile portrait of George VI was changed to his full frontal portrait. The security thread was introduced for the first time in India. The George VI series continued till 1947.

After the Partition of India in 1947, following advice from an expert committee, the Governor General of undivided India issued the 'Pakistan (Monetary System and Reserve Bank) Order, 1947' on 14 August 1947, the day before partition. Under this order, the Reserve Bank of India was to be the common currency authority for India and Pakistan until 30 September 1948, with notes issued by the Reserve Bank of India and the Government of India remaining legal tender in Pakistan until the same date. The order also allowed for notes issued by the Reserve Bank of India and the Government of India to be inscribed with 'Government of Pakistan' in Urdu and English, and placed into circulation from 1 April 1948. Following a seven-month period where notes of the Reserve Bank of India and the Government of India continued to circulate in Pakistan, modified notes of the Reserve Bank of India in the denominations of 2, 5, 10 and 100 rupees were introduced as planned, along with modified 1-rupee notes of the Government of India.

During the 24 years of Pakistan regime, Bangladesh was known at first as 'East Bengal' and then as East Pakistan. Pakistan issued first series of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 100 rupees bank notes in 1948, Second series notes 2, 5, 10 and 100 rupees were issued during the end of 1948. In the third series, there were 2, 5, 10 and 100 rupees notes including three one rupees notes and in fourth series the portrait of Mohammad Ali Jinnah was added and 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 rupees denominations were issued during 1957-1970.

It is also interesting to note that the while the currency of Pakistan is the 'Rupee', this was not the name used by the people of East Pakistan for the currency; they called it 'Taka'. While the Urdu and English text on the bank notes refer to 'Rupees', the Bengali text refers to 'Taka'.

On 16 December 1971, a new state, Bangladesh, is born, when Pakistan Army surrendered after a bloodbath of nine months, starting from the mid night of 25 March to 16 December 1971. It was decided at the first meeting of the Government that the name of the currency will be Taka and name of its fractional unit will be termed as poisha of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Bank, the central bank of the country, was set up on 16 December 1971 by the Bangladesh Bank Order 1972. The government accepted the assets and liabilities of the Deputy Governor's office of the State Bank of Pakistan in Dhaka and declared the Bangladesh Bank as a fully effective and permanent central bank. A. N. Hamidullah assumed the post of Governor.

As soon as Hamidullah took over the responsibility, he contacted eminent artist Quamrul Hasan to prepare the designs of the notes of the new country. Due to preoccupation Quamrul Hasanintroduced K G Mustafa, his student for this task. K G Mustafa, within very short time designed Two designs of each Taka Five and Ten Taka notes introducing traditional designs of rural and riverside Bangladesh. K G Mustafa also designed five metal coins too. He introduced traditional plough, hilsa fish, pan leave, and pigeon into these coins. By this time to meet the emergency, Hamidullah ordered Indian security press to supply Taka one, five, ten and one hundred notes with geometric designs and portrait of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Due to emergency security thread and watermark could not be included. The first one taka note hads signature of Finance Secretary K A Zaman and bank notes bore signature of A N Hamidullah. Later notes with all security measures included were printed from UK and were introduced during late 1972 and early 1973.

Afterwards, a 500 taka note was introduced in 15 December 1976, 20 taka note was introduced in 20 August 1979, 50 taka note was introduced in 1 March 1976 and 1000 taka note was introduced in 17 July 2009. At present notes of 8 denominations, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 taka notes are in circulation.

Whereas, 5 different coins of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 poisha coins were issued in 15 September 1973. Later, 1 taka coin was introduced in 1975 and 5 taka coin was introduced in 1993. Taka helps to exchange our necessary good and services from one another.

Striking features of Bangladesh coins is that it has national emblem on the reverse side and all the write up were in Bangla. At present coins of seven different denominations are in circulation. Besides, there are some commemorative coins issued on different occasions.


Siddique Mahmudur Rahman

Last Updated on Friday, 13 July 2012 06:18

Research Publication 'COWRI TO TAKA' Launched

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Publication Ceremony of an exceptional research publication 'COWRI TO TAKA - Evolution of Coins and Currencies of Bangladesh' was held on 10 September 2011

Last Updated on Friday, 29 June 2012 13:04




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