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By the end of the Nineteenth Century, India could broadly be divided into British India, the Princely States, the Portuguese Territories (Goa, Daman & Diu), and the French Territory of Pondicherry.

While many Princely States were issuing their own coinage, only two viz., Jammu & Kashmir and Hyderabad actually issued Paper Currency. Both the Portuguese and French Territories issued Paper Money. Burma, where the Reserve Bank had an office at Rangoon, was politically separated from India on April 1, 1937. The Indo-Burma Monetary Arrangements provided for the RBI to continue to manage the currency of Burma.

During the Second World War many petty Princely States issued emergency tokens which are alluded to as 'Cash Coupons' in lieu of coins. Emergency Money was also issued in Burma after the end of the Japanese occupation to facilitate exchange.

Traditionally Indian money had enjoyed wide circulation in the Persian Gulf Region. India had also issued notes for circulation in the Persian Gulf region as well as special notes for Haj Pilgrims.