She has businesses and billionaires and big ambitions. Now India wants something that no global economic powerhouse should be without: an international symbol for her currency. The hope is that the rupee sign will become as ubiquitous as the US dollar ($), or that instant emblem of the digital age, the @ symbol.
The Rupee is generally shortened to 'Re.' (singular) or 'Rs.' (plural), or sometimes denoted as INR. But these are not symbols; they are mere abbreviations for Rupee. To get an internationally recognised and accepted symbol, the Finance Ministry has initiated the search through an open competition.
According to the Finance Ministry, the symbol should 'represent the historical and cultural ethos of India'. The entries may be in any of the Indian languages, and even in English which is also an accepted language of use by the government. Each of maximum two entries per participant would be accompanied by a fee of Rs. 500. The symbol should also be applicable to the standard computer keyboard.
While we search for a currency symbol that mirrors the essence of India, we must equally be conscious of our business audience. From a strictly business perspective, the design must also reflect our monetary policy and the stability of our currency. The move shows we have begun to realise the importance of branding. The Rupee symbol could be a powerful part of India's brand iconography - a signal of stability and the fact that we are a lead player on the world stage.
Considering the multitude of diversity in thoughts and ideologies that typify India, the choice for the final design will have to be made very carefully. Aesthetic appeal is of paramount importance; we would not want a symbol that looks different or even offensive to anybody when viewed from a particular angle. In keeping with our ethos of inclusiveness and secularism, the symbol should be neutral and representative of India as a whole. It would be prudent to base the design(s) around the letter 'R' - in the officially-declared national language and script, and not English or any one particular regional language and script. It should fit well into the existing suite of international currency symbols. It is also critical to understand how the symbol would be used in all its technical applications - on a computer screen, on the web, on paper, on mobile phones.
The contest, which closes at 1 pm IST on 15 April 2009, is open only to resident Indians. The winning entry will be chosen by a seven-member jury of experts drawn from various art institutes, the government and the RBI. The top five entries shortlisted for final selection will be awarded Rs. 25,000, while the winner will take Rs. 2,50,000. The final selected symbol will become the property of the government and the original designer will claim no rights over it any more.
For more details and guidelines on how to participate in this exciting event. you may visit this page on the Finance Ministry's website.
My choice, you say? It is this:
Source: BBC News and the Ministry of Finance, Government of India
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