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Indian Currency to Have New Symbol


A handout picture released by the Indian Press Information Bureau (PIB) shows the new symbol for the Indian rupee, 15 July 2010

A handout picture released by the Indian Press Information Bureau (PIB) shows the new symbol for the Indian rupee, 15 July 2010

New symbol gives Indian rupee an international face, captures Indian ethos and culture

As India's economy grows and its ambition to make a mark on the global scene rises, the country has decided that its currency, the rupee, will have a new symbol. India hopes this will give the rupee an international face.

The search for a symbol for the Indian rupee began more than a year ago, when the government decided that the currency needed an identifiable symbol.

After going through 3000 entries submitted in a national competition, a panel of bankers, officials and artists chose the new symbol. It is a mix of the Roman letter "R" and its Hindi equivalent in the ancient Devanagari script.

Information minister Ambika Soni said the decision to have a symbol for the rupee is significant.

"In the first place, it is a big statement on the Indian currency," Soni said. "You, with this symbol, are announcing the Indian currency has arrived on the international platform."

Only a handful of major currencies such as the dollar, the pound, the euro and the yen have their own symbol, which makes them easily recognized internationally. So far the Indian currency is referred to by the letters "Rs." or "INR", which stands for Indian rupee.

According to the Indian cabinet, the new symbol captures the Indian ethos and culture. It was designed by a newly appointed teacher at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology.

Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Indonesia also use the rupee as their currency. Minister Ambika Soni says India's new symbol has an additional benefit.

"It would also distinguish our currency from other countries which also use the rupee or rupiah or something similar," she added.

While the symbol has been chosen, introducing it will take time. It is expected to be in use within six months in the country and up to two years internationally. It will not be printed on currency notes, but the government hopes to incorporate it on computer keyboards.

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