Who should be on India's Rs100 note?

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Put Our Women On the Money!

"Women hold up half the sky." 
They have been contributors in every field, playing leading, formative roles in many walks of life. They have been equal participants, contributors, leaders and organisers of the struggle for Indian Independence at the grassroots.

Yet we do not see enough mention of women in our history books or in the public sphere. This is because in our imagination, they have largely been relegated to the home to do “women’s work” (like childcare, cooking). Their work has either not been valued at all, or has been consistently invisible.  

If we want to change things for Indian women, there may be no single magical solution. But perhaps to highlight the work of Indian women, past and present, in contributing to Indian society would be a beginning? We would like to hold their lives up as role models for our current and future generations to look up to. 

And what better way to achieve this, than to put these faces on a common everyday object, like a currency note? As this also happens to be a token of economic power, it has a symbolic purpose too.

As a start, we plan to petition the Government of India and RBI to include a woman on the Rs 100 currency note.

After some thought, we have come up with the following initial shortlist of women who we believe could be candidates for this purpose. 
  • Aruna Asaf Ali
  • Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay
  • Pandita Ramabai 
  • Cornelia Sorabji 
  • Bhikaji Cama
  • Savitribai Phule

Aruna Asaf Ali : Freedom fighter, best known for hoisting the flag of the Indian National Congress at the Gowalia Tank Maidan in Mumbai (then Bombay) during the Quit India Movement. She also served as the first elected Mayor of Delhi.

Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay : Promoter of India’s rich and varied art and crafts, champion of women’s rights, social reformer, freedom fighter who worked for women’s empowerment through education.

Pandita Ramabai :  Pioneer in learning, self-taught woman who opened a shelter–cum-school for widowed women, travelled and wrote extensively, translated the Bible into Marathi.

Cornelia Sorabji : First woman to ever sit at the Bachelor of Civil Laws exam at Oxford University, first woman to practise law in both India and Britain.

Bhikaji Cama :  Political activist, unfurled the first version of the Indian National Flag at the International Socialist Conference in Stuttgart, freedom fighter,  social worker.

Savitribai Phule :  Opened the first ever school for the downtrodden among the first to fight against Casteism and Brahminic-Casteist culture, led a mass movement uniting the oppressed class against Brahminic values and thinking. 

Do you have others in mind? Please do leave your suggestions in the comments below. We are looking to add to this list. ( If you could provide us with web based links to the profiles of your suggested candidates, it would be great! )


  1. It's a great idea to adapt this initiative to the Indian context. Women's work in the domestic sphere is not valued, and their work in the public sphere is invisible. Just the exercise of remembering all the terrific women who have built India would be good for us as a society!

  2. Thank you so much for engaging. And for your support ! :-)

  3. We should! India has a storehouse of women achievers across history who have nada huge influence. Not just the internationally known ones. For example,
    Anandibai Joshi was the first woman in South Asia to study medicine, Sarla Thakral was the first Indian woman pilot plus she was the first Indian (not just woman) to get airmail pilot's licence.

  4. 1.Anandibai Joshee - was one of the first medical Drs in India

    2.Rukmini Devi Arundale - Padma Bhusan awardee, revived Bharatanatyam.

    3.Neerja Bhanot , was given Ashok chakra for her bravery. A flight attendant who died trying to save passengers during a hijack.

  5. Savitribai Phule.

    It is a wonderful initiative. All the more power and support to you.

  6. Savitribai Phule. No woman (or man) has done more for education, anti-caste activism and feminism than her in India's history.

  7. Wonderful initiative. Women have played (and continue to play) as big, if not bigger, role than men, in India's development. Given the odds they face, this needs to be repeatedly stressed in every manner/platform possible, if we are to hope to get the message across. This is a good initiative in that direction.

    These are all worthy women, but my preference would be for Savitribai Phule. For various reasons, she never quite got the recognition she deserved.

  8. bhanupriya rao27 May 2015 at 16:01

    Savitribai Phule. Fantastic campaign this is.

  9. Savitribai Phule and more power to you. @annaverve

  10. Savitribai Phule ☺

  11. I vote for Sarojini Naidu as the woman on Rs.100 note as she has been freedom fighter and served India in various capacities. She is a poetes. A special about her is that her birthday is celebrated as woman's day all over India..

  12. I think this is a novel initiative with regards to Indian context. I've signed the petition and will do my bit to spread the word.

  13. You may leading to castelism and discrimination....why not rani of jhanshi?..and however ur seeing now days how childs inspiring from mahatma Gandhi. And what is affecting if there is mahatma Gandhi note...

  14. First of all, it's a very nice initiative and timely too. While the ladies in that list deserve a place in their own right, i believe it would be better to start with Rani Laxmibai as she is the person we have all grown up knowing as the epitome of women power.

  15. There hasn't been anybody other than Mahatma Gandhi on the Indian currency. If you think there should be images of women from history, there should be images of great men as well. Why isn't there any petition regarding this? USA has different people on different bills. India should do the same. Lets start with Subhash Chandra Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rabindranath Tagore, Mangal Pandey, Bhagat Singh etc. I personally feel that these guys have contributed more to India than the women mentioned above. I'm not signing this petition.

  16. Poonam Pandey

  17. I strongly feel that women should also be depicted on Indian currency. Let there be equality and empowerment. Our currency notes should have different personalities -historic and contemporary depicted on them on different denominations.....
    Let us honour those men and women who have made outstanding contribution towards Nation building in various spheres like social reforms, education, fight for freedom, science and technology, agriculture and allied fields, environmental security, arts and culture, medical sciences etc. Women deserve more prominence for the pivotal role she plays in taking the nation ahead! I support this movement!

  18. Savitribia Phule or Sarojani Naidu. Both Equally Deserving !

  19. Probably the stupidest idea ever, feminism is a lost battle. Don't just be like some dumb hooligans even anarchy has some philosophy and more over discipline. Feminism will fail and has to fail, feminism is not equality.

    1. You know what, posting comments like these is dumb hooliganism. Lecturing about philosophy and discipline in the same comment makes it ironical. Request you to refrain from doing so.

  20. JHANSI KI RANI LAKSHMI BAI. And many others like her. Not politicians or actresses please!!!

  21. Sarojini Naidu. Congress president. Prominent freedom fighter jailed by British.

  22. Putting human beings on notes or circulation coins is a nauseating idea.
    Only exception could be Monarchs for those nations which have Monarchy.
    Even putting a leader is wrong.