follow the money

India Gets Its Dollar Sign

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 16, 2010 01:00 PM

The Indian rupee joins the U.S. dollar, the British pound, the euro and the Japanese yen with its own, unique symbol unveiled yesterday.

Chosen from more than 3,000 submitted designs, D. Udaya Kumar, Indian Institute of Technology assistant professor, created the winning design. "I don't have words to express my happiness,” he's quoted by Fast Company. "Most of them were almost similar in concept and execution. I thought I had an edge, as Indian script was represented."

It’s a modified version of a letter in Devanagari script which is used to write Hindi, India’s official language. Kumar’s prize is 250,000 rupees, or about $5,363. It also speaks to India’s current status as a growing international market.

“This is yet another symbol of the coming of age of India as a major player in the world economy. It’s probably more aspirational, [but] in 1990, if India said we’ll have a rupee symbol, people would have laughed at it. Today, people are asking how important it is,” commented Surjit Bhalla, managing director of Oxus Research and Investments, a New Delhi-based economic research firm.

The new symbol will distinguish India’s currency from others which are similar such as the Nepalese and Pakistani rupee, and the Indonesian rupiah. Previously, the most common notation for the rupee was “Rs,” and international traders used “INR” to distinguish it.

"With this, India will join an elite group of countries which have a distinct currency symbol. It denotes the robustness of Indian economy," added the country's Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Ambika Soni.

The rupee has stabilized recently and now sits at 46.5 to the dollar – reflecting a quick rebound in India’s economy since the recent financial downturn.

Harish Bijoor, a brand and business strategy consultant in Bangalore, sees the new symbol as “a way of saying we are entering into the realm of the developed world.”

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