Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

1 USD to INR: From 1947 to 2024

Explore the journey of the USD to INR exchange rate from 1947 to 2024. Discover the USD to INR history and the factors influencing exchange rate dynamics

Published: May 20, 2024 09:00:36 AM IST
Updated: May 20, 2024 05:54:10 AM IST

1 USD to INR: From 1947 to 2024

The US dollar (USD) is one of the most powerful currencies in the world and also the most widely traded currency globally. When the Indian rupee (INR) is expressed in terms of another currency to measure its strength or weakness, the most common benchmark is always the USD. Would you believe there was a time when the USD to INR exchange rate was less than 5? However, 1 dollar in rupees in 2024 is around ₹83.

So, how did the USD to INR exchange rate become progressively higher? This article explores the intriguing USD to INR history, from pre-independence to the present, shedding light on significant economic events that have shaped India's currency landscape.

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1 USD to INR from 1947 to 2024

Here’s the USD to INR history since India’s independence, put concisely for you

Year Exchange Rate [1 USD to 1 INR]
1947 3.30
1949 4.76
1966 7.50
1975 8.39
1980 6.61
1990 17.01
2000 44.31
2005 43.50
2006 46.92
2007 49.32
2008 43.30
2009 48.82
2010 46.02
2011 44.65
2012 53.06
2013 54.78
2014 60.95
2015 66.79
2016 67.63
2017 64.94
2018 70.64
2019 72.15
2020 74.31
2021 75.45
2022 81.62
2024 (as of May 20, 2024) 83.28

Dollar vs. Rupee History

The USD to INR history reflects the ups and downs of India’s economic journey. By examining the change today from the rate of 1 dollar in rupee in 1947, we can measure the strength of the rupee over the years.

Let’s dive into the key milestones in the dollar vs. rupee history.

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Pre-Independence Era - Before 1947

The pre-independence era was characterised by the British colonial rule in India, which impacted the country's economy, including its currency. Hence, the value of the rupee was directly influenced by the economic conditions in Britain.

Like many other world currencies, the British Pound was convertible to USD within one percent of fixed rates, while the US dollar was pegged to gold. The Bretton Woods Agreement determined this global exchange rate.

The Great Depression of the 1930s shattered the world economy. India's economy, a colony under British control, also faced double the impact.

However, there are arguments that 1 dollar in rupee in 1947 had a better value. This could be because the value of the British Pound was more than the value of the US dollar. It's believed that £1 was equivalent to ₹13.37 Rupees, leading to the expectation that $1 must have been worth ₹4.16 then.

Also Read: Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India: Inflows in 2023 and last 10 years

Post-Independence - 1947 to 1991

After gaining independence in 1947, India adopted a fixed exchange rate system wherein the government interventions managed any fluctuations in exchange rates. Under this system, the value of the Indian Rupee remained constant. This approach aimed to stabilise international trade, but it also limited the ability of the currency to adjust to changing economic conditions.

The USD to INR exchange rate remained relatively stable primarily. However, the stability of the Indian Rupee was disrupted by wars with Pakistan and China, which strained India's foreign exchange reserves.

Additionally, global events like the oil crisis in the 1970s led to inflationary pressures, increasing the dollar rate. India's efforts to balance economic growth, foreign policy, and currency stability throughout this period significantly determined the USD to INR exchange rate.

The Reserve Bank of India and the Indian government further adopted several adjustments to the price of the Indian Rupee after the Nixon shock in 1971 and the Smithsonian Agreement—both with lasting implications for the USD. The INR slowly moved from a par value method to a pegged system and then to a basket peg by 1975.

During Economic Reforms and Liberalisation - 1991 to 2000

The period from 1991 to 2000 marked a crucial turning point in India's economic history and notably impacted the USD to INR exchange rate.

In 1991, India initiated a series of economic reforms and liberalisation measures to open up its economy to foreign investments and reduce trade barriers. These reforms shifted from a fixed exchange rate system to a more flexible one. The Indian Rupee was partially converted to the current account, allowing for greater flexibility in exchange rate determination. The value of $1 to ₹1 now stood at 35.

By 2000, the dollar rate had increased, and 1 USD to INR was about 45. The value of the US dollar saw an increase as the Indian government pursued the policy of Indian Rupee depreciation resulting from factors like the need to attract foreign capital and address trade imbalances. Global economic events such as the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s and the nation's efforts to modernise its economy all played pivotal roles in shaping the USD to INR exchange rate during these transformative years.

21st century - 2001 to 2023

In the early years of the 21st century, from 2001 to 2023, the USD to INR exchange rate reflected India's dynamic economic landscape and global economic conditions.

It started at approximately 1 USD to 1 INR at 47 in 2001, weakened to around ₹75 in 2020, and fell further to about ₹80 in 2023.

Meanwhile, India experienced robust economic growth, attracting foreign investments; however, the 21st century also witnessed global events with negative implications for the INR value, such as the 2008 financial crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic introduced additional complexities, influencing exchange rates worldwide, including the INR. During this period, domestic economic factors, foreign investments, and global economic developments shaped the INR's exchange rate.

In recent years, the exchange rate has hovered around 1 USD to 1 INR at 80.00 INR, reflecting a new dynamic between India's economic growth and global economic conditions.

Factors Influencing Exchange Rates

Several factors influence the USD to INR exchange rate, namely:

Trade Balances

A country's trade balance, the difference between exports and imports, can impact its currency's value. A trade surplus (more exports than imports) can strengthen the currency, while a deficit can weaken it.

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High inflation rates can chip away at the purchasing power of a currency, leading to depreciation. Central banks often use interest rates to control inflation, affecting exchange rates.

Interest Rates

Higher interest rates in a country make its economy more attractive to foreign investors. This, in turn, leads to increased demand for the country's currency as investors seek greater returns. The higher demand strengthens the currency's value compared to other currencies within the foreign exchange market, causing it to appreciate.

Geopolitical Events

Political stability and international relations can influence investor confidence and currency value.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

A country's attractiveness for foreign investments can impact its currency. Higher rates of FDI can strengthen the currency, while the contrary can weaken it.

From the pre-independence era, marked by British colonial rule, to post-independence challenges, economic reforms, and the dynamic 21st century, many domestic and international factors have influenced the rupee's value. The history of the USD to INR exchange rate is undoubtedly a fascinating journey through India's economic evolution.