The union cabinet on Thursday approved the new symbol for the Indian rupee — an amalgam of the Devnagiri ‘Ra’ and the Roman capital ‘R’ without the stem.
The symbol, designed by an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) postgraduate D. Udaya Kumar, was selected from among five shortlisted symbols before the cabinet, information and broadcasting minister, Ms Ambika Soni, said after the cabinet meeting.
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.
Now that the Union Cabinet has approved the new symbol for the Indian Rupee designed by Indian Institute of Technology postgraduate D Udaya Kumar on Thursday, the question in everyone’s mind is how and when do we get to type the new symbol?
This isn’t going to happen overnight. Ambika Soni, in the press conference held to announce the new symbol, said it might 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.
Encoding in the Unicode Standard will also ensure encoding in the International standard ISO/IEC 10646 as both the organizations work closely with each other.
The symbol will also be included in the Indian Standards, viz. 13194:1991 – Indian Script Code for Information Interchange, through an amendment to the existing list by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The ISCII specifies various codes for Indian languages for processing on computers along with the key-board lay outs.
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.
But you don’t 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.
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.
The symbol will feature on computer key boards and softwares so that it can be printed and displayed in electronic and print. Soni said it would also help in distinguishing the Indian currency from rupee or rupiah of countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
The decision to have a symbol for the Indian rupee was taken by the government last year. The finance ministry wanted the symbol to represent the historical and cultural ethos of the country and called for entries from the public.
Moreover, you can build your own font for the new Rupee symbol using free online font-creation tools.