Wednesday, 25 February 2015


Have I ever told you that everything in India is different? Of course I have! I was just being ironic! Well, here we have another example: LAKHS and CRORES!

I don't know if it's to drive us (foreigners) crazy or an "English arrogance" problem which the Indians have inherited from the British. Looking at the way the British lace their communications with words and terms nobody but them can understand (stones, shillings, bobs, gallons, miles, inches, quarts, Fahrenheit,...), the Indians couldn't be any less and decided to invent these two words: LAKHS and CRORES!

The Indian number system not only sounds different, it's written differently too! Well, in fact, I think this system is used not just in India but also in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar. It dates since the early Vedic period (1500 BC).

The comma positioning in written form signifies different numerical blocks as compared to the commonly used system. We separate a number into sets of three digits, while the Indian system separates the last three digits first, just like the Western system, but the rest into sets of two digits. Commas are inserted at the thousand, lakh and crore levels.

Summing up: 1 lakh = 1,00,000 and 1 crore = 1,00,00,000.

I read somewhere that 100 has a lot of significance in Sanskrit, or was it 108? I could make do with some help from my Indians readers!

I've also read that they use the tems padm (1,00,00,00,00,00,00,000) and shankh (1,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,000) but that was not a figure the people around me used at all. Their salary was not 1 padm a month and they definitely didn't have a house worth a shankh!

It may look complicated at first glance, and you might even find yourself thinking, "what's the deal with lakh and crore?" but the thing is: one fifth of the world population is Indian, so, maybe it's us the ones who should change!

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