Yesterday, my mother brought a Rs.10 coin. I pounced on the new coin (I've this relatively new habit of keeping samples of different coins), but was surprised to find the year was shown as '2007'. If the coin was released in 2007, why have I not seen it yet? Anyway, in case you have not seen one yet, here's how the coin looks:
That brings us to the design of coins. What do you think of the design of this one?
Lately, the government has released coins of various denominations that has the picture of a female hand showing the denomination. A raised thumb for Rs.1, two fingers for Rs.2 and a fist (??) for 50p. I find them atrocious. The ones released a bit earlier had two sets of intersecting perpendicular lines (like the one shown above). I don't understand the meaning of that as well (if that dot is a head, then the arms are a bit too long!). And the quality of these coins is so bad that some of them have become quite unrecognisable in 2 years time.
I really loved the older designs. The Rs.2 coin had an interesting shape and map of India (National Integration theme), Re.1 coin had two corn ears and the 50p one had the map of India and the Indian parliament. And remember the rhino on the 25p coin? All coins (except perhaps 25p & 50p) had a very prominent Ashoka Pillar on them. The majestic national emblem of India gives the coins an 'official' look. In comparison, the new ones look like I made them in my backyard mint (no I really don't have one!).
Some time back, I read a blog post by an artist who designed a coin for the Netherlands using only Free Software. The design of that coin is amazing (please read that.. it's overwhelmingly impressive). Every graphic element is designed carefully and has some meaning or reference to Dutch architecture (the theme for the commemorative coin was 'Netherlands and Architecture'). That's how coins are meant to be designed.
And we have coins which have reduced the national emblem to minuscule low quality versions, and show (probably) some one's wife's hands!
PS: I have been fortunate to visit Sarnath and see the Ashoka pillar in it's full majesty. It was a moment of awe, pride and inspiration. If you happen to travel anywhere near (Varanasi, for example), I'd strongly recommend visiting the ruins of Sarnath.
Here's a photo of the Ashoka pillar (what's left of it) that originally carried the 4-lion capital. The pillar capital (the national emblem) has been cut off and is kept preserved in a nearby museum under tight security (and no cameras allowed inside). You can see the engravings on the pillar in this photo.
And here's a photo of us at Sarnath: (the structure behind us is the Dhamek Stupa)