History of the Indian rupee symbol

The Indian currency is called the Indian Rupee whereas the coins are called the paise. If we go back to the history pages, India is known to be one of the first civilizations to issue coins during 6th century BC. Throughout the course of Indian history, coins remained the prime monetary unit. Indians coins were kept evolving as different kingdoms came and went. They were wonderful representations of changing dynamics of India’s socio-political and cultural landscape. Indian coins were primarily made in gold, silver and copper.

In 18th century, the concept of currency took a drastic change with the arrival of bank establishments. Banks started to print their own paper currency in different languages. Thereafter, British reign took control of paper money and symbols on it.

The Reserve Bank of India got into act with note production in 1938 by issuing rupee notes of different denominations. The current series is called Mahatma Gandhi series which began in 1996.
The news of Rupee’s new symbol first appeared in 2008 when the Indian Government talked about possible creation of Rupee’s new symbol. The idea was definitely historical in nature and it had wider ramifications for Indian economy. After two years of intense speculation, competition, nationwide design submissions, finally, Indian cabinet gave its approval to new rupee symbol in July 2010. With approval of new Indian rupee symbol, India has finally joined the privileged club of currencies, which currently has the US dollar, British pound sterling, Euro and Japanese yen. This makes India rupee the 5th currency in the world to have a clear distinguishing identity.

The new rupee symbol is clearly an important step forward to recognize the increasing economic linkages between economies of India and the world. India has emerged as one of the most favored destinations for global investments and this indicates the underlying strength of the Indian economy. By launching its own currency symbol, India has also managed to distinguish itself from other similar currencies of different countries.

The new symbol is a blend of ‘Ra’ in Devanagri script and ‘R’ in Roman. It has two parallel lines crossing this ‘Ra’ or ‘R’ which actually denotes that the symbol “is equal to” one Indian rupee. A closer look at the symbol also indicates robustness of the Indian economy. The design is inspired from the tricolor, with two lines at the top and white space in between.

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