Did Nehru government scrap currency notes featuring Subhas Chandra Bose?

An image of a currency note featuring Subhas Chandra Bose has appeared on social media, along with the claim that the currency note was demonetised by the Jawaharlal Nehru led Congress government. The Facebook page Modi Government on October 22 posted this image, which has been shared a whopping 14,000 times already.

घटिया और गंदी सोच वाली है कांग्रेस ….

Posted by Modi Government on Sunday, October 21, 2018

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 is the 5 rupee note featuring Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose which was scrapped, so that Indians forget this freedom fighter, but share this to the extent that the government resumes printing it- translated). According to the currency note, it has been issued by Azad Hind Bank and features Bose wearing his trademark cap and performing the hand salute.

Alt News found that another image of a currency note featuring Bose was posted by a Facebook user in the group WE SUPPORT NARENDRA MODI, in September 2018. This post claims that the image is of a 10 rupee note which was scrapped by Nehru.

Did the Nehru led government demonetise currency featuring Subhas Chandra Bose as claimed by certain sections? It did not, for the simple reason that these currency notes whose images are circulating on social media, were never legal tender. They were issued in pre-independent India.

Azad Hind Bank

The currency notes featuring Subhas Chandra Bose were issued by 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 organizing 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.

Extract from Fiery Dragons: Banks, Moneylenders and Microfinance in Burma

There are several kinds of currency notes featuring Subhas Chandra Bose which were issued before independence by the Azad Hind Bank (also known as Bank of Independence). Some of these notes have found their way to the public domain, mainly forming part of personal collections. The Hindu had reported in January 2010 that one such currency note had been made public.

Image courtesy: The Hindu

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 which 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 seeking to repay loans through currency issued by the Azad Hind Bank. The request followed the declassification of files related to Bose. The Economic Times reports, “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,” said one of them. “Some of them even want their existing loans to be repaid through these currency notes.” The second official said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had said it doesn’t have any record of such an entity and therefore the currency can’t be recognised as legal tender.”

The claim that the Nehru government demonetised these currency notes featuring Subhas Chandra Bose is patently false. These notes were never recognized 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 Bose, despite there being little evidence available in the public domain to suggest the same.

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