South Asia

Indian government approves new symbol for rupee

India currency symbol
Image caption Five symbols were shortlisted, and this won

India is to have a new symbol for its currency, the rupee, after the government approved the winning entry in a national competition.

The symbol is a cross between the Roman letter R and its Hindi equivalent, and was designed by a teacher at the Indian Institute of Technology.

A panel of artists, officials and bankers picked the new design.

The Indian government hopes it will soon be as recognisable as the dollar, the pound or the euro.

Correspondents say choosing the symbol reflects India's ambition to be seen as a global power.

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", information minister Ambika Soni says.

"It will distinguish the rupee from other currencies."

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.

The winning entry was submitted by D Udaya Kumar, a newly-appointed teacher of design at the Indian Institute of Technology. He will receive prize money amounting to $5,350 (£3,500).

Experts say implementing a new currency symbol can be an expensive exercise.

According to one estimate, when the euro was introduced in 1999 it cost Europe's biggest companies more than $50bn to update their computer systems to deal with the changeover.

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