Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Indian Rupee has a Symbol - Big deal?

This is bound to be a small post. However, the start (for me) was a really interesting one. I have been thinking of writing on this new symbol that our currency just got. And almost two weeks later when I could sit down and log in to blogger - Voila - a new reader on the blog had this comment.
It's great..really great job..!!

Looking forward to read more from you esp. on "our Indian Rupee sign" ...!!

So I guess it must be a good omen. Here we go

Rupee has a new symbol. Period.
I have been told by everybody that I should be proud of this because
1. We are only the fifth country to have a symbol after USA, Europe, Japan and Britain.
I wonder do we count anywhere close to these countries as an economy. May be we are expected to, in about a couple of decades - but proud we must be of having a symbol. phew!!

2. We might suddenly be recognised globally because soon keyboards will carry this new symbol.
I wonder whether people in general and media in particular realise that the symbol has to go through a unicode committe before it is accepted and recognised globally. Only after that will our Govt. be able to mandate hardware manufacturers to carry the symbol in their produce.
However, enthusiasts have already found out ways to type it - find here if interested.

3. Because it is touted as a positive step towards India becoming a financial super power.
Alas, I wonder - will we ever get over with our fascination with symbolism, hyperbole and overtly optimistic beliefs. Yes for all I write here - I am a firm believer in India's future. But for god's sake - someone tell me how a symbol for our currency is a step towards economic supremacy. Its a pathetic argument.

The truth is - achieving Global recoginition would require the Rupee to be a strong currency - something in whose inherent strength the citizens of this world have firm belief. Try purchasing something in exchange of the Indian Rupee in a country outside India and you would know that we are not even a few miles in reach of such a position. Our currency is not even fully convertible - so imagining that it could soon become a reserve currency for the world is plain wishful thinking. Even with all its woes the American Dollar, The Euro, The Pound and the Yen are far stronger and are expected to remain so for a decade or more, that is assuming the Indian Govt. continues to reform and is able to aggressively correct its economic mess.

The timing of the announcement, even if inadvertantly, was sublime. The country was reeling under the pressure of inflation exacerbated by deregulation of petrol prices and the Govt. seemed to be on the defensive with a very comprehensive "bandh" called by the opposition parties. Suddenly with the launch of the new symbol the country seem to be have galvanised. The media suddenly forgot all discussion about inflation. Govt. received a welcome breather. The foolish common man of India (courtsey the film "Wednesday") was fooled again into believing that his and his country's time is about to change. No sir, nothing like that is happening. A few weeks from now - it will be business as usual and the Rupee symbol will have to be incorporated in the CBSE text books for next year and forgotten. Period.

BTW I think the symbol is rather cool. Simple, Indian as well as western, manages to remain a currency symbol as well. Kudos to Shri D Udaya Kumar, our homegrown IITians to come up with this simple and brilliant symbol. I sincerely hope that his design finally becomes a household symbol across the earth.