Say adios to the old ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes, and hello to the fresh-off-the-mint new ₹500 and ₹2,000 notes. So, how different is the new from the old? Quite. For one, the new notes have fashionably shrunk in size. The ₹2,000 note is 66mm x 166mm, smaller than the current ₹1,000 and even ₹500 notes. And the new 500 note is just 66mm x 150mm. Ergo: the new currencies will fit in snugly in your wallet.

The new notes come in different colours too. While the ₹2,000 paper dons a bright magenta, the ₹500 is cast in stone gray (unlike the light green version so far). The positioning of the number panels, Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait and the currency numeral on the front side has changed too. The theme has also changed — the ₹2,000 note has, on its reverse, the motif of the Mangalayan — depicting India’s first venture in interplanetary space while the new ₹500 depicts the Red Fort.

Notable features

Cosmetics aside, the new notes, in keeping with the avowed aim of preventing forgery, have a host of security features built in. Most of these features were present in the old notes too. New ones such as the currency denomination mentioned inside the identification mark add to the robustness. But if you thought the new note has some awesome user-tracking features, sorry, not yet. Here are the notable features about the new notes (see graphic “New Currency”.)

On the front side of the note, there is a see-through register near the left bottom. When held to light, the currency numeral becomes visible. Below this see-through register, in a rectangular panel is a latent image of the currency numeral; this can be seen when the note is held at eye level. Above this latent image is the currency numeral written in Devanagiri script. The portrait of Mahatma Gandhi is now in the centre of the note — older notes had it on the front right side.

Next, the ₹2,000 note has the micro letters ‘RBI’ and ‘2000’ between Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait and the vertical broken thread — these micro letters can be spotted with a magnifying glass. The vertical security thread changes colour from green to blue when the note is tilted. In the ₹2,000 note, Bharat’ (in Devanagari), the ‘RBI’ and the currency numeral is inscribed on this security thread. Next to the thread are the guarantee clause, the RBI’s governor’s signature with the promise clause and the RBI emblem. The white space on the far right has watermarks of Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait and the currency denomination — these can be seen when held against light.

The numerals in the number panels on the top left side and the bottom right side increase in size from left to right while the first three alpha-numeric characters remain constant in size — this feature is known as ‘exploding font’. The bottom right also has the currency numeral with the rupee symbol; this changes colour from green to blue when the note is tilted. On the far right is an Ashoka Pillar emblem too.

Identification marks

Besides, there are features to help the visually impaired identify the notes. Just above the Ashoka Pillar emblem are identification marks — horizontal rectangle in ₹2,000 notes and circle in ₹500 notes with the currency denomination printed inside. Also, there are angular bleed lines — 7 in ₹2,000 notes and 5 in ₹500 notes — on the far left and right sides of the notes. The identification marks, bleed lines, the Mahatma Gandhi portrait at the centre and the Ashoka Pillar emblem are printed in raised ink, helping the visually impaired and also adding to the security features.

Take a look at the note’s reverse side too. It has the year of printing on the top left, the Swachh Bharat logo with slogan in the white panel, the language panel towards the centre with the currency mentioned in 15 regional languages the country, and the note’s motif towards the right — Mangalayan in the ₹2,000 note and the Red Fort in the ₹500 note.

Floating rumours

What the ₹2,000 note doesn’t have — contrary to rumours floating on Whatsapp — is an embedded chip that beams signals to the powers-that-be.

Now, this would have been straight out a sci-fi movie and certainly nice to have (beware hoarders!). But it would have cost more than ₹2,000 to print a ₹2,000 note.

So, it’s still just paper with a lot of other security features. Another uplifting forward had Gandhiji’s portrait giving you a tight slap if you tried to offer a bribe with the new note. Guess, such happy happenings will also have to wait.

The RBI though has indicated that new design notes in other denominations will follow.

So, your ₹100s, ₹50s and other notes too could also see a makeover in the foreseeable future. Change is the only constant.