# Bye Bye Chaar Anna

The 25 paise coin, popularly called chaar anna , has cease to be legal tender today.It has passed into history just  like the 1,2,3,5,10 & 20 paise coins.In a way it is the death of an era.It makes me  a bit sad.

Before 1957  the old coinage system in India consisted of rupees, annas, paise and pies . There were 64 paise to a rupee and 3 pies to a paisa i.e 192 pies to a rupee.On April 1, 1957 India adopted decimal coinage with 100 paise to a rupee.The conversion of prices from the old system to the new the was never going to be exact. Five paise, for example, was nine pies and 20 paise was 3 annas, 3 pies.There was a great deal of grumbling from people who had to learn a new way of handling money.The then prime minister Pt.Jawaharlal Nehru sold decimalization of the rupee to the Indian people as a “silent, but far-reaching revolution” which  was really a return of sorts to the mathematical systems of ancient India which had invented the concept of zero.To make conversions easier the government issued tables that rounded off “by ignoring fractions of half a naya paisa and below and treating more than half a naya paisa as 1 naya paisa”.The 2 coins that made things easier for the people were the 25 paise which was deemed to be an exact substitute for the old quarter rupee or four anna coin  and the 50 paise coin which substituted the half rupee or eight anna coin. This ease of substitution is, in fact, probably why the 25 paise was introduced at all. Otherwise a strict decimal series should go in multiples of 10, yet retaining the old quarter value coin was a way to keep the transition simpler.

The 25 paise at one time was pretty valuable.My 64 year old dad remembers that 2 veechi parathas and mutton varuval , then a luxurious non-vegetarian meal for a college student living in a hostel, would cost 25 paise in Madurai. In the 80’s chai at the Mumbai airport cost just 25 paise-and the airport was then considered an expensive place!But inflation has relentlessly eroded the value of the 25 paise. No 25 paise coins were minted after 2002.For a good number of years before that no beggar would have accepted one as alms.In the end,the only party that would accept the 25 paise in Mumbai were the conductors on BEST buses. Slowly but surely the 25 paise lost its relevance.In fact today with the rise in prices of metals,it costs more than 25 paise to make the 25 paise coins.Given this negative seigniorage along with the lack of relevance of the 25 paise in today’s economy,the government has finally done away with the 25 paisa coin.