Well, there was a Rupee Census to estimate coins in circulation in India

Random Google search brought my attention to this note prepared by Dr. P.C. Mahalonobis (we are celebrating his 125th birth anniversary in 2018.

The note highlights something named Rupee Census which was prepared to estimate coin circulation in India. But what does Rupee Census mean?

Prof G- Findlay Shirras in his book explains that mere looking at coinage statistics we cannot figure coin circulation in India. As some old coins are demonetised, some others are damaged, some are melted and new coins are issued, we need to estimate all these in the final figure.

Thus, from 1875 onwards, there was this annual exercise called “Rupee Census” to estimate total rupee circulation in the economy. Prof Shirras explains:

Since 1875 an examination of the composition of the rupee circulation is made annually in May. In all treasuries and currency offices, bags of ordinary size,
containing R. 1000 or R. 2000, received in payment of revenue, etc. (i.e. in current circulation, in order to represent as accurately  as possible the description
of coins in current use), are examined in detail, and returns of the number of rupees of each issue are forwarded to the Accountants-General who furnish the provincial returns to the Controller of Currency.The percentage results of the census are published in the Report of the Controller of Currency. 

Hmmm. There were disagreements and subsequent improvements in estimating these values. Prof Shirras himself gave another measure to estimate this more correctly. This in turn led RBI to ask Prof Mahalonobis whether the Shirras method was accurate enouugh or could it be improved…

Not sure what happens today.


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