French India was a French colony that consists of five enclaves of the Indian Subcontinent that were once factories of the French East India Company. These five enclaves that were later incorporated into the Republic of India include Pondichery, Yanaon on the Coromandel Coast, Karikal, Mahe on the Malabar Coast, and Chandernagor in Bengal. The French Settlements also consisted of several loges or subsidiary trading stations that were administered by all European East India companies in many towns of India. In 1936, French India’s population was about 298, 851 inhabitants with 63% being inhabitants of the territory of Pondichery. By 1950, the colony covered a total area of 510 square kilometers.
The Bank of Indo-China was established on January 21, 1875, to operate in French India and French Cochinchina, and later on, opened 28 branches and agencies across the world. In 1875, the bank issued a set of notes with Pondichery as the printed place of issue. These paper bills bear French, English, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu text. They featured allegorical figures on the front and displayed the legal clause at the back. In 1888, a 50-rupee banknote was released with a combination of purple and brown. The note depicted allegorical women, France holding a sickle reclining with a bull and India reclining with a tiger.
Between 1919 and 1945, a 1-rupee banknote was issued featuring the bust of a helmeted woman, Marianne, that is the personification of France. On the obverse of the 5-rupee banknote released between 1936 and 1946, an image of Marianne also appears holding a spear and an olive branch. The reverse depicts a Cambodian woman wearing a headdress holding a flower and the Angkor Wat ruins. Meanwhile, the obverse of 50-rupee banknote features an ornamental container with a foo dog on the cover. On the reverse are Governor-General Joseph Francois Dupleix and a profile of a Greek goddess.