India approved a symbol for the rupee, in an attempt to give the currency a unique identity as the country seeks to expand its financial influence in the global competition. The symbol is a cross between the Roman letter R and its Hindi equivalent.
The symbol was designed by D Udaya Kumar, a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology. He will receive prize money amounting to $5,350 (£3,500).
The Indian government hopes it will soon be as recognizable as the dollar, the pound or the euro. The winning entry was one of five shortlisted in the public competition announced in March 2009. Designers were given a brief to come up with a symbol that captures the ethos and culture of India.
Until now the rupee has generally been shortened to the letters Rs or sometimes INR (Indian rupee).
India’s government says these are not symbols but mere abbreviations.
The new symbol will be the “identity of the Indian currency. It will distinguish the rupee from other currencies”, information minister Ambika Soni says.
The winning design is made up of half the letter R with a horizontal line on top and in between to make it also look like its equivalent in the Devanagari script, which used in a number of Indian languages including Hindi and Sanskrit. It will soon be introduced on computer keyboards and banknotes in India and is expected to take a year or two to be fully implemented.
D Udaya Kumar the 31-year-old IIT-B post graduate in industrial design also feels that his use of Devanagri script helped him clinch the coveted honours.
“Indianising the symbol was very important. I had to be simple and acceptable nationally and internationally. It had to reflect our culture and ethos,” Kumar, who would be joining IIT (Guwahati) as Assistant Professor tomorrow, said.
“My design is based on the tricolor, with two lines at the top and white space in between. I want our flag to fly high,” Kumar said with a broad smile.
With the union cabinet approving his design, the Indian rupee will join elite currencies like the US dollar, Euro, British Pound and Japanese Yen which have a distinct identity.
Kumar’s entry was chosen from 3,000 designs competing for the currency symbol. He will get an award of Rs 2.5 lakh.