What does the new Rupee symbol mean to a layman?

Written by: Radha Radhakrishnan
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New Indian Rupee Symbol
Since Indian Government announced the new symbol for Indian Rupee last week, the country is abuzz with comments and statements on what the new symbol means to the economy in the international arena.

The Rupee symbol is a blend of the Devanagri 'Ra' and Roman 'R' and is meant to provide a distinctive character and identity to the currency.

With this, the Indian Rupee has joined the elite club of currencies like US Dollar, British Pound, Japanese Yen and the Euro, which are the only other four currencies in the world to have a distinct symbol.

At this juncture, the Government has no plans to print the symbol on currency notes or coins. It will be included in the Unicode standard and in major scripts of the world so that is displayed and printed in electronic and print media.

Many luminaries have chorused the view that the new symbol heralds India"s arrival on the international scene and that the country is now ready to take on the world.  But are we? Is this statement more an aspiration than reality? What does the new symbol mean to the common man? A reality check is essential.

First, economic progress in grand manner notwithstanding, a recent report by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative indicates that there are 421 million multi-dimensionally poor people in eight of the Indian states (Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal) as against 410 million poor people in 26 of the poorest African countries.

The study uses different indicators of poverty such as health, housing, education, nutrition, access to basic services like drinking water, sanitation, cooking fuel and electricity.

This simply means the common man needs basic things first to be able to appreciate and participate in India"s ascension to global biggie status.

Second, four currencies before the Indian Rupee opted for unique symbol in order to distinguish themselves in global financial transactions. These four are also the most freely convertible currencies in the world today.

Can you think of a major international financial transaction dealt in any other currency other than these four? It"s a rarity. Where does Indian Rupee stack up here? Indian Rupee is neither treated as a reserve currency nor is it as convertible as these currencies, which simply means Indian Rupee does not carry the same weight as the four currencies carrying a symbol today.

There is no doubt that the new Indian Rupee looks classy. It aptly represents our cultural heritage. But it stops there. Everything else the symbol is intended is statement of aspiration and seems far away from truth.

If the genius cartoonist R K Laxman was in good health he would have explained in his typical inimitable style what the new Indian Rupee symbol means to the common man.

*Follow Radha Radhakrishnan on Twitter

*The views expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oneindia.in or of Greynium Information Technologies Pvt Ltd. *

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