Imagine your computer keyboard having a new key with a new symbol. And the Rupee note you hold sporting an altogether a new look with a currency symbol you have not seen before.
This is just what’s going to happen in the next few months, with our Indian Rupee all set to get its own unique symbol, in line with the world’s most powerful currencies — the US dollar, the British Pound, the Euro and the Japanese Yen.
“The unique symbol will give Indian Rupee a place of its own in the world financial market, making it easily tradeable in the West. It will also establish the supremacy of the Indian economy and the prowess of the Indian Rupee,” says K. Narasimha Murthy, IDBI director.
The symbol will also give a distinct identity to the Indian currency as neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka also use the abbreviated letters Rs for their money. “This is leading to confusion in the world financial market. A unique symbol for the Indian currency is the need of the hour,” Murthy points out.
Though India is the second largest democracy in the world, its currency does not have a unique symbol in the world financial market.
This is in contrast with currency symbols of powerful nations — $ sign for the US dollar, £ for British pound and ¥ for Japanese Yen. The new symbol for the Rupee will be in Devanagri script representing the letter ‘Ra’ (ra).
The Finance Ministry received as many as 36,000 responses to the ‘Unique symbol for the Indian Rupee’ competition it held last year. Of these entries, officials have zeroed in on five, for approval by the Cabinet. The winner (whose design is selected) will get a reward of Rs 2.5 lakh, but he has to surrender the rights over the unique design.
Business magnate Y. Harischandra Prasad, who headed CII State chapter till recently, observes the symbol will give a “definite edge” to the Indian currency as India is “poised to become a major financial superpower.” It will also boost exports.
While the Rupee gets a unique symbol, the changeover is not going to be an easy task. First, computer manufacturers will have to create a new key on the keyboard to accommodate the new Rupee symbol, or replace one of the existing characters with the Rupee character.
Secondly, the Reserve Bank of India and the foreign agencies invol-ved in the printing of the currency will have to make changes in their printing set-up. Thirdly, there has to be a massive campaign to inform people that both the new currency and the old currency continue to be the legal tender.
Union Finance Minister Pranab Mu-kherjee announced that the Rupee would get the unique symbol during 2010-2011.
According to BS Rawat, deputy secretary to the Government of India, the symbol will represent the historical and cultural ethos of India as widely accepted across the country. The symbol will also be applicable to standard keyboards.