When India chose a symbol for its rupee, it was more than symbolic value..

Gita Bhatt of IMF has a piece on Indian Rupee Symbol in the recent Finance & Development magazine.

Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey may have to add another currency to the famous quartet that makes the world go round. “A mark, a yen, a buck, or a pound . . . Is all that makes the world go around,” they sing in Cabaret in their famous duet at Berlin’s decadent Kit Kat Klub.

Now India has a symbol for its rupee to make the currency as easily recognizable as the yen or the dollar.  Besides representing monetary value, for many countries a symbol can be a source of national pride and identity, evoke a country’s hopes and aspirations, and occupy a coveted place on computer keyboards.

This was the thinking behind the Indian government’s search for a rupee symbol to replace the “Rs” abbreviation. In February 2009, a nationwide contest invited entries for a symbol that “reflects and captures the Indian ethos and culture.” With a formal symbol, then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee (now president of India) declared, “the rupee will join the select club of currencies such as the U.S. dollar, British pound sterling, euro, and Japanese yen that have a clear distinguishing identity.” In addition, a symbol would help separate India’s currency from others with similar or identical names, like Nepali, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan rupees and the Indonesian rupiah.

The new rupee symbol was unveiled July 15, 2010; officially approved by the government of India on August 26, 2010; and went into circulation about a year later.

Designed by academic and designer Udaya Kumar—the symbol was selected from over 3,000 submissions and a short list of five finalists. Today Kumar’s winning design is found on all Indian currency notes and coins (not to mention stamps, checkbooks, and keyboards), marking India’s as only the second currency in the world—the first being the U.K. pound (£)—whose distinctive symbol is printed on its notes.

Did not know that Rupee Symbol is second to GBP Symbol on being printed on currency.


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