My Crores vs. Your Millions

India gave the world Zero. So should we not be a bit more assertive in the matter of numbers?

I have grown up with lakhs and crores. And I have not heard that India has officially moved to millions and billions.

2018-06-15 17.29.16_resizedWhy then does my newspaper headline inform me that 55 million Indians are pushed into poverty every year due to health spending? Isn’t it a sad enough fact for me to take in, without having to contend with doing mental callisthenics?

And an Indian research journal in which I hope to publish a paper also says that figures must be in millions and billions, not in good old familiar lakhs and crores.

Well, in the case of the research study, maybe it has been done in collaboration with American researchers? And in the second, maybe it is that the journal hopes for an international audience?

Whatever the reasons, when communicating to Indians, would it not make more sense to use familiar number-names? Is 55 million a lot? Or not so much? What proportion of the population is it? I can’t do these calculations early in the morning.

And writing numbers too! I write and relate to 10,00,000. Not 1,000,000. But will Excel allow me to? NO!

India, we hear has a lot of soft power (as well as software power). Can we not prevail upon companies making programs to have an ‘Indian number variation’, like there are options for UK and US spellings?

And even more important, can we in India—the media, academia, use lakhs and crores? The Americans have proved that a country can get by in the comity of nations without switching to the metric system. Mine is a relatively small ask!



5 thoughts on “My Crores vs. Your Millions

  1. Interesting – I found lakhs and crores really mind-boggling at first and still have to think them through mathematically so I can understand how coming from the other side it must be just as frustrating. Probably more so as in my case it’s just a matter of curiosity – not something I actually need for daily life other than reading certain articles (or blog entries 🙂 )

    You can actually set up Excel to display as you like and it isn’t too difficult – let me know if you’d like me to show you how. I’d send a screenshot link but especially as this is my first comment and including a link might send this permanently to your spam folder.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m so sorry – I completely forgot to respond to this. It requires that you set up a custom number format. I was going to write a how-to but it looks like someone beat me to it. Have a look here:

        The permanent solution they mention also looks good and may be even better depending on how often you need to format for western versus Indian number formats.

        Apologies again for the late reply.


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