While the almighty dollar sign is universally known (and the oft counterfeited bills undergo frequent upgrades), India’s currency, the rupee, has been strangely bereft of an official symbol to use when denoting it in text. Today it’ll choose one, from a short list of five similar designs and join the ranks of its international cousins.
Googling for “rupee symbol” returns a barrage of different results, revealing the typographic disarray India’s government finds itself in concerning its currency. The rupee is a proud unit of cash, dating back to the mid 16th Century when Emperor Sher Shah Suri ruled the nation, and coined the word rupiya to describe a small silver coin that weighed 178 grains. With such a long history, and importance on the international money markets of the 21st Century, it’s surprising that the modern rupee needs an official decision about its symbol. But at least the Indian government was creative about the problem: In May 2009 it held an open “competition” for ideas for the design, and then narrowed it down to five–shown below.
They’re all pretty similar, and look like a design that’s sometimes in use unofficially at the moment. And all of the ideas are similar in look to the symbols we all know and love (or hate) for the various flavors of dollar, the yen, euro, and pound sterling (and also currencies you’d perhaps never heard of, like the Nigerian Nairas ₦, and Mongolian Tugriks ₮). Isn’t it a shame that something a little more wonderful–a little more Indian, perhaps–isn’t in the final shortlist?
The final choice is due today.
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