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India’s New Rupee Symbol

August 2010
India’s New Rupee Symbol

Four currencies—the U.S. dollar, British pound, Japanese yen and Euro—have unique, widely used symbols.

Now India is joining this exclusive club with an elegant symbol for its rupee. It may look like a character from a language that’s spoken east of India, but in reality, this new symbol is a combination of ‘R’ and ‘Ra’ in the Devanagri script.

Does it mean we can skip the good old ‘Rs.’ and ‘Re.’ (singular)? Not yet. India will adopt the new symbol in six months, and it may take up to two years for global use. This brand-new creation was picked just last month from over 3,000 entries submitted to the Indian government since March of last year. In announcing the contest, the government had asked for a symbol that represents the national ethos and culture. There were five finalists. D. Udaya Kumar, an assistant professor of industrial design at IIT-Guwahati, was the lucky winner of the hefty prize. He gets 250,000 (rupees, naturally). The other finalists were an architect, a teacher, an ad designer, and a designing professional.

Kumar’s ingenious idea, besides fusing Roman and Devanagri characters to reflect the well-known ‘Rs.’, was to include two parallel lines at the top. They represent the tricolor Indian flag and are also symbolic of the equality the nation aspires to among its citizens.

Four other nations— Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Indonesia—use the rupee or rupiah as their unit of currency. So this new symbol will help to make the Indian rupee distinct.

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