How Many Lakhs Does It Take to Make a Crore?

many-lakhs-make-crore Credit: Gopal Vijayaraghavan/CC-BY 2.0

You'll need 100 lakhs to make one crore. In the Indian numbering system, a lakh is 100,000, and a crore is 10,000,000 in the international numbering system. Therefore, 100 lakhs multiplied by 100 gives you one crore, or 100,000 (1 lakh) x 100 = 10,000,000 (1 crore). One million in the Indian numbering system is 10 lakhs, and one billion is 100 crores or one arab. Using lakh and crore in discussions to quantify large numbers is common practice in the Indian subcontinent and Burma.

The Indian Numbering System

Apart from India and Burma, other countries using the Indian numbering system are Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, and the Maldives. The Indian numbering system is similar to the international numbering system from 0 to 10 to the fourth power or 104. The similarity between the international and Indian numbering system, however, ends at this point.

The Indian system deviates from international numbering system by having new words for the next second powers of 10. Whereas the international English numbering system has assigned words for every third power of 10 from million, billion, trillion, and so on, the Indian system has different words starting at 100,000 with lakh and 10,000,000 crores.

Although seldom used in discussions, there are other words for the next second powers of 10 after crore. These are one arab, which is equivalent to 100 crores or one billion; one kharab or 100 billion, one neel or 10 trillion, one padma or one quadrillion, one shankh or 100 quadrillion, and one mahashankh or 10 quintillion.

Comma Placements in the Indian Numbering System

Both the Indian and Western number system have the same comma placement or separators from thousands to ten thousands when writing down numbers. Once the number reaches 100,000 or one lakh. However, the Indian numbering system uses a separator between the one and the next zero. One lakh, therefore, is written as 1,00,000. Since one million is 10 lakhs, it is written down as 10,00,000.

The numbering sequence proceeds until the figure hits 99,99,999 or nine million, nine hundred thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine. For the next number in the sequence, another separator is needed to indicate the crore. In other words, the next number after 99,99,999 is one crore written down as 1,00,00.000. This pattern continues for the next second powers of 10, such as the arab, kharab, and so forth.

Lakh and Crore in Indian English

Indian English, also known as Indo-English, is an iteration of the English language that is spoken in India. English is one of the major languages in India since the British rule from 1858 to 1947. To date, there are around 30 million people in India who use English to communicate, making them the third largest English speaking country in the world.

One of the main characteristics of Indian English is the incorporation and adoption of certain Indian words into the vocabulary. The words "lakh" and "crore" are originally in Hindi but have found its way into Indian English.

The first recorded inceptions of these two numerical terms into English date as far back as the early 17th century in a collection of travel narratives written by Samuel Purchass. The use of lakh and crore has since become common practice in English language textbooks, newspapers, and other literary pieces in India.

Lakh and Crore in Pop Culture

The influence of lakh and crore influenced Indian versions of Western pop culture ideas. One good example is the hugely popular game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. While in most other countries, contestants work their way from thousands to get to the top prize, which is in millions. In the Indian version of the game show, the top prize was in crore, and the lesser monetary wins were in lakhs.

The game show was also the theme for the 2008 British movie drama, Slumdog Millionaire. Interestingly, a movie poster version for the Indian audience was composed with Indian English text that read, "Slumdog Crorepati." The concept of "millions" is better grasped by Indians if it is represented in crore.

Lakh and Crore in Other Languages

The use of lakh and crore are also commonly used in other countries in the Indian subcontinent. The following are the versions of these two numerical terms in other languages in the region:

  • Bengali: Lokkho or laakh and koti
  • Nepali: Lakh and karod
  • Sinhalese: Laksa and koti
  • Telugu: Laksha and koti
  • Tamil: Ilatcham and kodi
  • Gujarati: Lakh and karod
  • Punjabi: Lakkh and karor
  • Kannada: Laksha and koti