India finally got a symbol for the Rupee Thursday, denoting the strength of its economy, and joined a select club of countries whose currencies have a unique identity.
The cabinet approved the symbol — an amalgam of the Devnagiri ‘Ra’ and the Roman capital ‘R’ without the stem and two parallel lines running at the top. The parallel lines symbolise the equal to sign.
“It denotes the robustness of the Indian economy,” said Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, announcing the cabinet decision.
With the gaining of the symbol, the Indian rupee joins the club of US dollar, British pound, European euro and Japanese yen that currently have their own symbols.
The need for the symbol had become necessary because of the Indian economy’s rapid growth, which has propelled it to become one of the largest economies of the world.
“The symbol for the Rupee would lend a distinctive character and identity to the currency and further highlight the strength and robustness of the Indian economy as also a favoured destination for global investments,” said an official statement.
The symbol will distinguish the Indian currency from currencies of other countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Indonesia which also use the word “rupee” or “rupiah” to identify their respective currencies.
In his budget speech, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said that the new rupee symbol will appropriately reflect and capture the Indian ethos and culture, and according to officials at the finance ministry the final choice had Mukherjee’s approval.
However, it might take more than a year for the new symbol to come into use throughout the country and about two years for it to be popular internationally, said Soni.
For being internationally recognised and easily printed on electronic and print media, the new symbol has to be accepted by the international unicode consortium’s unicode technical committee that is responsible for the development and maintenance of the Unicode Standard.
In fact, the new symbol had been designed keeping in mind the ease with which it can be incorporated into the existing software systems.
“The symbol will be included in the “unicode standard” for representation and processing of text, written in major scripts of the world to ensure that the Rupee symbol is easily displayed or printed in the electronic and print media as all the software companies provide support for this standard,” said the statement.
The new rupee will also find its way on to keyboards of Indian manufactured computer systems, with suitable amendments being made to the existing list by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
As part of the strategy on incorporating the new rupee with the mainstream, the government said the national association of software companies, Nasscom, will approach IT firms to embed the symbol in their operative software, as a new programme or as an update.
This will enable the computer users worldwide to use the symbol even if it is not embedded on the keyboards like in the case of the Euro.
“For incorporating the symbol in the keyboards to be manufactured in India, the Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology will ask members to make requisite changes in the production processes once the symbol is notified as a keyboard standard,” said the statement.
The state governments would also be asked to encourage the use of the new rupee symbol and proactively promote its use.
The encoding of the rupee symbol in the Indian Standards is estimated to take about six months while encoding in the international norms and will take about 18 months to two years.
The symbol was designed by D. Udaya Kumar, who is with the Department of Design at IIT Guwahati. Explaining the significance of the design, he said it is based on the Indian Tricolour.
“My design is based on the Tricolour with two lines at the top and white space in between. I wanted the symbol for the Rupee to represent the Indian flag,” said Kumar.