Friday, July 16, 2010

Cabinet approves new symbol for rupee

The rupee will soon have a unique symbol joining elite currencies like the US dollar, Euro, British pound and Japanese yen in having a distinct identity. The new symbol was approved by the cabinet on Thursday. The Indian rupee will have its own symbol, a mix of the Devanagri 'Ra' and Roman 'R', to become the fifth currency in the world to have a distinct identity. The new symbol, designed by IIT post-graduate D Udaya Kumar was approved by the Union Cabinet on Thursday. Significantly, Kumar is all set to join as a faculty member in the IIT, Guwahati’s design department. The rupee will join the elite club of US dollar, British pound-sterling, Euro and Japanese yen to have its own symbol. The symbol will be printed or embossed on currency notes or coins. Kumar's entry was chosen from among 3,000 designs competing for the currency symbol. He will get an award of Rs 2.5 lakhs. Announcing the cabinet’s decision, Soni said the government will try that the symbol is adopted within six months in the country and globally within 18 to 24 months. The symbol will feature on computer key boards and software’s so that it can be printed and displayed in electronic and print. However, this isn't going to happen overnight. It may take up to a year for the new Rupee symbol to be used throughout India and about two years for international acceptance. For widespread usage, the new symbol has to be accepted by the Unicode Consortium's Unicode Technical Committee that is responsible for the development and maintenance of the Unicode Standard, including the Unicode Character Database. India is a member of the Unicode Consortium and getting an approval for the new symbol shouldn't be too difficult. In fact the new symbol had been designed keeping in mind the ease with which it can be incorporated into the existing software systems. The Unicode Technical Committee meets on a quarterly basis and the next meeting is scheduled for October. While the Government of India can mandate hardware manufacturers to include the symbol in keyboards, it can also be accessed through assigned keyboard combinations or via the operating system's Character Map, post approval from the Unicode Consortium. Software manufacturers can include the symbol in their new updates. However, people do not necessarily need to wait for the official standards approval to use the new Rupee symbol. Soon typographers will release fonts that include the symbol. But these fonts might not be universally supported.


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