We use many types of 5 rupee coins, most of which are somewhat gold-coloured, featuring symbols of India’s 75 years of independence, images of prominent faces, or something unique.
But when was the last time you saw those old thick and heavy Rs. 5 coins? It’s been a while, right?
Now, if you take a look at your wallet or ask for a Rs. 5 coin, you’ll see a difference. The new coins weigh less than the earlier minted coins and are thinner as well. The old coins were made of Cupro-Nickel and weighed 9 grams.
The old Rs 5 coins are hardly seen these days, the only coins left are those in the market that are in circulation.
Now you might be wondering: What is the reason behind this sudden change in the appearance and circulation of the Rs. 5 coin?
Well, the reason why the Reserve Bank of India discontinued the old Rs 5 coin will shock you! It was because of the illegal smuggling to Bangladesh.
This dates back to 2007, when the RBI was dealing with a strange issue. Smugglers used to export these coins to Bangladesh. But why? In Bangladesh, these coins were melted down and shaped like razor blades due to their high metal content. A large number of hairdressers were using these razor blades.
One single coin could be turned into six blades, and each blade could be sold for Rs 2. So, by melting a 5 rupee coin and turning it into blades, smugglers could make 12 rupees per coin with a profit of 7 rupees per coin.
And this smuggling has contributed to the shortage of such coins.
When the government learned about this problem, they took quick action by changing the appearance and metal content of the 5 rupee coin. The RBI started making new 5 rupee coins thinner than the old ones, and these thinner coins are the ones we use today.
Additionally, the central bank mixed the metal with cheaper elements, making it less lucrative for melting. This means that even if someone tried to export Rs. 5 coins, they couldn’t easily turn them into razor blades.
The demand for Indian coins, not just Rs. 5 coins, has been high for a long time. According to reports, besides making razor blades, people were melting down these coins to create bracelets, earrings, and small statues.
Initially, the coins were smuggled into Bangladesh; however, this illegal activity has also started happening inside India as well.
To address the coin shortage and smuggling, the government began distributing coins through post offices, instructed banks to provide an adequate number of coins to the public, and is also planning to introduce plastic currency, even for small denominations of coins.
So, do you still have any of those old and heavy Rs. 5 coins?
Written By Shivani Singh
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