The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kalam note helps solve note problem
- Boon for visually challenged

Bhubaneswar, July 3: Before President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam signs off from his post, he leaves a ray of hope for the visually-challenged persons.

A communiqué from Reserve Bank of India has come as a reply to the letter written by the Orissa Association of Blind to the President, wherein they had pressed for modified currency notes to enable the visually challenged to identify them. “We are so glad to receive an immediate response from the President’s side. These days we are busy jotting down suggestions for the new notes if they come. Braille dots, raised symbols, cutting corners, producing notes of different sizes, or with perforations are some suggestions we have come up with,” said an enthusiastic Sanyas Behera, the office secretary of the association.

There are more than 5 lakh visually-challenged persons in Orissa and the problem of distinguishing currency notes has been noticed widely. The current practice of identifying a currency note is by measuring its sizes with fingers.

“But that is of little help, as notes with denominations of Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 are more or less the same. The smaller denomination notes such as Rs 5, Rs 10 and Rs 20 vary in size and therefore can be differentiated,” Behera added.

In places like Ahmedabad they have a device known as the “note taker” that looks similar to a scale and is used to measure the length of the note. But it’s yet to be available in Orissa. “Durability of Braille marks on notes is limited. Coins with same denominations and stickers on notes maybe introduced to solve this problem,” said Sarojini Sahoo, a teacher of special education.

Citing an instance, Prabeen Khetravasa, a visually-challenged youth explained how he was cheated last week. “My neighbour sent me to a grocery store with a Rs 500 note. The shopkeeper said the note I was carrying was Rs 100 and not Rs 50,” he said.

“I was confused as to who was telling the truth — my neighbour or the shopkeeper' Finally, local residents intervened and the issue was left unsettled,” he sighed.

This is not a lone case. Everyday the association gets to hear of such cases of cheats. “We are all the more scared after we came to know about the fake notes'” Behera said.

The letter to the President’s office was sent to the RBI, which in turn has explained features currently available in notes that can make identification that much easy. The bank has assured to look into the matter and directed the chief secretary to look into the problems faced by the visually challenged.

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