By entertaining the possibility of having other leaders and politicians gracing our currency notes, the RBI is setting a precedent, which may snowball. In a polity where identities and loyalties remain as politicised and polarised as ours, each dominant group will demand its icons to be represented on currency notes. We have enough experience of public sentiments based on caste, religion, region being fanned to serve partisan ends. Choosing who should be the next face of the country’s currency notes could become a hotly-contested battle, involving political wrangling and manoeuvring. Further, it might unleash a storm, wherein politicians would leverage the issue to address their constituencies and indulge in crass
We have recently seen how the political cartoons featured in NCERT textbooks for students was blown out of proportion on the grounds that the cartoons were disrespectful to our national leaders. In the name of political correctness, artists, academicians and writers have been censored and banned. Blind hero-worship is in our blood and runs deeply in the veins of our national politics.
The RBI would do well to restrict the image issue on currency notes to Mahatma Gandhi only. There are elaborate conventions, precedents and rules in many other developed countries on this subject. In the US, there is an elaborate procedure, which restricts the selection to past Presidents only. In the UK, this business is entrusted to the Bank of England.