1. Rumours fox the denizens about new currency notes

Rumours fox the denizens about new currency notes

Just after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the withdrawal of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as demonetisation, the new currency of Rs. 500 and Rs. 2,000 hogged the headlines on various social networking mediums. Padded with rumour, it put a large section of people foxed as well.

Published: January 17, 2017 5:25 PM
It was said that the new Rs.2000 bills would be embedded with a nano chip so as to track its location and consequently track the black money holder. (Reuters) It was said that the new Rs 2000 bills would be embedded with a nano chip so as to track its location and consequently track the black money holder. (Reuters)

By Charu Rana

Nothing is swifter than rumour! And, perhaps swiftest after some bold move!

Just after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation on 8 November 2016, announced the withdrawal of old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes as demonetisation – the new currency of Rs. 500 and Rs. 2,000 hogged the headlines on various social networking mediums. Padded with rumour, it put a large section of people foxed as well.

But as rumour never have truth, let us analyse the facts categorically! It was said that the new Rs.2000 bills would be embedded with a nano chip (with signal penetration of 120 m) so as to track its location and consequently track the black money holder. It may be noted that for location determination purpose, a GPS satellite continuously sends two different radio frequency signals in L1 (1575.42 Mhz) [for civilian use] and L2 (1227.60 Mhz)[for armed forces’ use] radio bands. These L1 radio signals are received by a GPS tracking unit or smartphone. To determine the location of an individual, four coordinates are required – three space variables and one time variable. The processing of these coordinate signals is done by the tracking unit and not the satellite (its function is just to transmit the signal). A few errors also creep in, i.e. Orbit error, Clock error, Inospheric delay, Tropospheric delay and Multipath. Interestingly, at present – no such technology exists that can manufacture a GPS tracker that small.

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The smallest GPS chip is made by an Israeli company. The thickness of this GPS chip is 5.8mm while the currency note of Rs.2000 is only 0.15 mm thick. Thus, it is not possible to contain a nano GPS chip in the currency note.

Furthermore, a GPS module will require a power source (battery) to operate. Considering the present technology, a power source that small has not been invented yet.

However, there are some devices operating on a technology that can harness radio waves and generate power, but it is still under the laboratory stage, called the ‘Freevolt technology’.

On the other hand, a penetration depth of 120 m corresponds to a frequency of 1.25 Mhz (~240m). Now, since the factor of ionospheric error is too large, the maximum ionization in the 1000 km thick ionosphere would mean a frequency ranging between 5–15 MHz in the peak of F region. Only a frequency larger than this can cross the ionosphere, thus 120m penetration assumption is also a fallacy.

It was also rumoured that a collective stronger signal to be sent by chips embedded in stack of Rs.. 2000 notes worth in lakhs, but as every chip will send its own signal back to satellite which is again of very less power.

It was also falsely propagated that a radioactive isotope of phosphorous- P32 (radioactive ink) was being used in the new Rs. 2,000 currency notes to help I-T department detect illegal wealth. But, it may be noted that P-32 has a half-life of 14.29 days and thus decays into sulphur-32 very rapidly. Consequently, less half-life would mean that the beta particles that would be emitted are highly energetic and can easily penetrate the human body. Also, there is no documented usage of radioactive ink for the purpose of printing. Dr Lochab categorically mentions: “If any radioactive component is added into ink, it becomes radioactive ink. Radioactive trace elements, which would be in micrograms, are difficult to trace even with sensitive instruments.” It means the government would have to use large amounts of radioactive elements, thus exposing citizens to high amounts of carcinogens. Therefore, it is not possible to use a radioactive element as an ink to print Rs. 2000 notes due to health hazards and no such technology exists till now.

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The last but not the least was a funny rumour: The Government of India has launched a mobile application (Modi keynote) that displays a live speech by PM Modi. When the user scans the new currency, it can also check the authenticity of the new currency. Firstly, it is untrue that the application is launched by the GOI. There has been no official statement issued in this respect. The application is developed by a Bengaluru- based startup called Barra Skull Studios. The application is an example of augmented reality technology, where one can blend a virtual object with a video stream from the mobile camera, an example being the ‘Pokemon-go’ game that was under the news radar most recently.
(The author is Assistant Professor, Dept of Electrical, Electronics & Communication Engineering, The NorthCap University, Gurugram)

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