torn money in India

When I was in India a number of years ago, I found that people were quite wary about receiving money that was partially torn. Sometimes a cab driver or shopkeeper would refuse to take a bill that was torn (such as from being folded/creased too many times) but still very much intact and clearly recognizable. At least once when I got stuck with such a bill, I eventually had to take it to the bank to get it exchanged because no one would accept it.

By contrast, people in the U.S. seem to pass around dollar bills in much worse shape than many of the rupee notes that I saw people inspect closely for tears - dollar bills held together by scotch tape, bills missing big chunks out of them, etc.

Anyone know what the deal is in India with torn money? And is it peculiar to India? Thanks.

I asked my mother-in-law, who is from India. She says the torn bills are not accepted because “voh calte nahin hain” – meaning “they don’t work.” Whatever that means.

I’ve never seen it anywhere else but the third world. Notes stay in circulation so long they really get ragged. It doesn’t help that some banks staple them together.

In India they welcome the opportunity to drop such notes on any unsuspecting tourist. When I was there it was standard practise to save any hard to pass notes to pay the hefty US $50 departure tax. Once they’ve passed them to you, it seems no other Indian wants them, no, no, no.

I was in a local tourist office with an obnoxious Australian friend of mine, I think it was in Manali (India), when he tried to pay for a local map with a battered 10 rupee note. Of course, the guy behind the counter didn’t want to take it. So my Auzzie friend starts in with, “Crikey, mate, you’re right, that’s a pretty old note.” Now this was clearly not the attitude the counter help was accustomed to, and I myself was taken aback at his approach. So he continues, “Geeze, it’s probably not even worth 10 rupees anymore, what do you think?” This poor fellow has no idea how to answer this question. The unfolding scene has attracted the attention of each of the numerous civil servants who people such places.

And with all eyes on him, he held it up to the light for one brief second and before anyone could utter a word, shredded it to tiny peices before all our eyes.We turned on our heals and left them all standing, staring, stunned, mouths hanging open.

For ten rupees it was more than worth it!

he torn notes are srill legal, even if no one wants them. In a pinch, or if you claimed to have nothing else, people would often take them than. Otherwise, just good for baksheesh.

Right. Fob them off on the destitute beggars. Everyone else’s leavings is good enough for that lot. And what are they supposed to use them for? Upholster the crates they sleep in?

They beggars could find a use for the torn notes because they are still legal tender. I spent two months in India providing free medical care to the many poor souls there who needed it. Baksheesh is hardly limited to the beggars, as you may have noticed. When did I talk about giving money to beggars? While I sympathize a great deal with poor Indians, I resent your implication, nor did I mention beggars, nor pawning money off on them.

I noticed the same thing in Cambodia, while the U.S. dollar is the currency of choice in many places throughout the world; (some countries currency only marginally more valuable than toilet paper) It was refused at times for a “dog ear” corner. I couldn’t believe it. Never have heard a decent explanation, other than a lot of chattering and pointing at the wrinkled corner.

I used to work retail, and I’ve received notes in various degrees of torture. Never once even though about refusing them…Maybe in India torn notes are considered bad luck?

I got screwed in London a few years ago over a 10-pound note.

It was a bit worn, but not terribly so. Not torn, even. And the metallic strip woven through it was still there, clearly visible.

But when I gave it to a clerk, she tore it up in front of my eyes and said it was counterfit. I was flabbergasted. Didn’t even know where to start.

The next day, I went to an AmEx change bureau and exchanged the bill (taped up) for a new one. The clerk there didn’t understand why it would have been torn up. “It just look slike it’s been through the laundry a few times,” she said.

Answer: some people are stupid.


If you ever come across any more of those unwanted and damaged £10 again I’ll volunteer my services and dispose of them for you .

I make an unconditional guaruntee - you will never need to worry about them again. :wink: