The wonder note that was not

TONGUE IN CHEEK

Madhusudhana Rao S

A few hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi dealt a blow to black money by announcing the demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes, a message going round on WhatsApp has pushed India into space age, figuratively and security-wise.

The contents make any Indian proud and the world envious of our strides in nano technology, space sciences and IT. In fact, the security features embedded in the new Rs 2,000 note (released on Thursday), as described in the WhatsApp message, are a page from science fiction. Now, read on.

The Rs 2000 currency note is designed keeping in mind to eradicate the black money using state of the art indigenous nano technology.  Every Rs 2000 note is embedded with a nano GPS chip (NGC). The unique feature of the NGC is it doesn’t need any power source. It only acts as a signal reflector. When a satellite sends a signal requesting location, the NGC reflects back the signal from the location, giving precise location coordinates and the serial number of the currency note back to the satellite. This way every NGC-embedded note can be easily tracked and located even if it is kept 120 meters below the ground level. The NGC can’t be tampered with or removed without damaging the currency note.

Wow! No country in the world, including the mighty US whose currency rules the world, has never thought of printing high denomination dollar bills with such safety features despite facing the threat of counterfeit notes. Only we could do it! But how these high-tech notes could spell doom to our parallel economy? The second part of WhatsApp message has an answer:

Since every NGC embedded currency note can be tracked, the satellite can identify the exact amount of money stored at a location. If a high concentration of currency notes is found for a longer period of time at suspicious locations other than banks and financial institutions, the information will be passed to the Income Tax department for investigation.

If you think it is incredible, more features have been added to the wonder note on the eve of its release. According to these, besides an embedded GPS facility, the Rs 2000 note is water resistant and has an iris scanner and HD led display!

Wish all these features attributed to the new note are true! Someone whose imagination has run riot has taken the social media by storm with well-spun futuristic features and the incredulous have actually believed the spoof until the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley clarified on Wednesday.

To put it simply, there is no grain of truth in it. With Mangalayan motif on the Rs 2000 note, India, for the first time, has immortalized its space achievement with an image of the Mars mission on a high denomination note. Other than that, the security features it has are believed to be foolproof, at least for the time being.

According to a half page advertisement inserted in newspapers by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, the salient features of Rs 2000 note include: See through register with denominational number 2000; colour shift windowed security thread with inscriptions Bharat in Hindi, RBI and 2000; colour of the thread changes from green to blue when the note is tilted; denominational numeral with rupee symbol, 2,000 in colour changing ink (green to blue) on bottom right; raised printing of Mahatma Gandhi portrait, Ashoka pillar emblem , bleed lines and identification mark for visually impaired, etc.

The new Rs 500 note also has similar enhanced security features. In fact, all denominations of currency notes, including Rs 1000 notes, are expected to be reintroduced with new colour combinations and designs and extra security features in due course of time.

If the Rs 2000 note spoof is intended to overawe counterfeiters, well, it has served its purpose until the cat is out of the bag!

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