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India Adopts a New Symbol for Its Currency

The Indian rupee joined the U.S. dollar, the British pound, the euro and the Japanese yen on Thursday when it got its very own symbol.

India's Rupee symbol.
India's Rupee symbol.

The rupee’s new rune is a modification of a letter in the Devanagari script, which is used to write Hindi, India’s official language. It was designed by D. Udaya Kumar, a student at the Indian Institute of Technology, who studied typography, scripts and ancient printing methods. It looks like a capital letter R, minus its vertical leg, and with two added horizontal lines through the upper, curved portion.

Mr. Kumar’s winning entry was picked from more than 3,000 submissions and five finalists, and approved by the India’s top government ministers on Thursday. Mr. Kumar, who begins teaching as an assistant professor at his alma mater on Friday, told a local news channel it was a “great honor” to be part of India’s history. He takes home a prize of 250,000 rupees, or about $5,363.

The symbol will “lend a distinctive character and identity to the currency and further highlight the strength and robustness of the Indian economy,” the Ministry of Finance said Thursday in a statement. It will also help distinguish India’s currency from others with similar or identical names, like the Nepalese and Pakistani rupee, and the Indonesian rupiah.

It often takes several years for a new currency symbol to be adopted around the world.

For India, the next step after government approval is submission to the Unicode Consortium, a not-for-profit organization of many of the world’s largest software manufacturers, which has created standard computer coding to represent many of the world’s languages. An Indian technology trade organization, Nasscom, will ask software developers to include the symbol in their new products, and Indian keyboard manufacturers will be encouraged to include it new products.

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