It's official! The humble rupee now has a symbol.
After delaying its verdict by many weeks, a five-man jury finally chose IIT post-graduate D Udaya Kumar's design as the symbol of the Indian currency from shortlisted entries in an all-India contest late on Wednesday.
And on Thursday afternoon, a Union Cabinet meeting, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, too approved the design.
"It denotes the robustness of the Indian economy," said Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, announcing the cabinet decision.
"The symbol for the Rupee would lend a distinctive character and identity to the currency and further highlight the strength and robustness of the Indian economy as also a favoured destination for global investments," said an official statement.
The symbol will distinguish the Indian currency from currencies of other countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Indonesia which also use the word "rupee" or "rupiah" to identify their respective currencies.
However, it might take more than a year for the new symbol to come into use throughout the country and about two years for it to be popular internationally, said Soni.
For being internationally recognised and easily printed on electronic and print media, the new symbol has to be accepted by the international unicode consortium's unicode technical committee that is responsible for the development and maintenance of the Unicode Standard.
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 symbol will be included in the "unicode standard" for representation and processing of text, written in major scripts of the world to ensure that the Rupee symbol is easily displayed or printed in the electronic and print media as all the software companies provide support for this standard," said the statement.
The new rupee will also find its way on to keyboards of Indian manufactured computer systems, with suitable amendments being made to the existing list by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
As part of the strategy on incorporating the new rupee with the mainstream, the government said the national association of software companies, Nasscom, will approach IT firms to embed the symbol in their operative software, as a new programme or as an update.
The exercise followed Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's announcement that the government intended "to formalise a symbol for the Indian rupee which reflects and captures Indian ethos and culture" in his 2010 Budget speech.
Kumar's symbol (seen above) is formed by the merger of the Devanagari 'Ra' and the Roman capital 'R' without the stem.
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Kumar, who stands to win a prize money of Rs 2.5 lakhs, is a postgraduate from Indian Institute of Technology.
He has been besieged with media calls and interviews ever since it was learnt that his design had been picked.
"I feel really great. I don't have words to express my happiness. Really thrilled," he told a television channel grinning. "I can't think anything in my mind right now."
After being shortlisted, Kumar along with the other designers made presentation of their designs in December 2009.
"Most of them were almost similar in concept and execution. I thought I had an edge, as Indian script was represented," said Kumar.
"The Devanagari is the only script which has a line on the top. I also put another horizontal line.... so that we get a tricolour," he said.
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"I wanted the flag to be flying high and be represented in the symbol," added Kumar, who will be joining IIT-Guwahati as an assistant professor on Friday.