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Achyuth Punnekat
Saturday , July 17, 2010 at 08 : 40

A Symbol of Progress?


My sister has just joined IIT Bombay... And far from happy I am a little apprehensive. The issue is simple. Money. Specifically The Rupee. Not the lack of it. Not the abundance of it. Just the symbol of it.

The media, as usual, has been going gaga over the new rupee symbol... And the enthusiasm has been infectious on the web too. I've even seen friends musing on Facebook on when they'll see it on keyboards!

Considering the fact that the '£' '¥' '€' signs don't feature in most keyboards available in India... I guess never. Not unless India decides to ban US standard keyboards and make desi versions mandatory!

And considering the fact that the much hyped new rupee sign is utterly devoid of any originality, I hope people are never forced to use the ruddy thing!

Mind you, I like the idea of a symbol exclusively for the rupee. But adding a slash to a devnagiri 'Ra' and calling it Rupee is quite... copycat. Not to mention partisan.

The claim is that the new symbol also resembles an English 'R'. What a stroke of luck! A 'Ra' looks just like an 'R'. And sure! Since an English 'R' is included, all those non-Hindi speakers are expected to jump with joy?!

Back to the beginning... So why am I ranting about IIT Bombay? Well, guess where the designer of this symbol came from?

Dharmalingam Udaya Kumar may have his heart in the right place... But his claim that the symbol represents the tricolour (without the colours!) is simply too hard to comprehend.

He has even given mathemagic to his design... Apparently it is based on arithmetic equivalence. It's certainly not based on linguistic equivalence! And to think that Kumar comes from a state that takes so much pride in its own linguistic identity.

There will always be those who argue that Hindi will get prominence as its spoken by a majority. And they are absolutely right. But Hindi cannot be the sole language India is identified with.

'The symbol shows the robustness of the Indian economy,' claimed Ambika Soni. Sure it does... but only if you add the GDP of the country after it! I mean, how on earth can a currency symbol represent growth? (Unless of course it's this one - ?)

All this sounds suspiciously like a marketing trick... After all it's the public which has to propagate the new symbol.

In all fairness, I must admit Kumar did win the contest fair and square. But that's because the 5 symbols shortlisted were all variations of the same theme. A 'Ra' with a slash somewhere! Just like your run of the mill '$', '£', '¥' or '€'.

So really the government has bad taste. One would have thought a country trying to join the elite currency club, would have taken a more bold approach. Or just stuck to the true and trusted 'Rs'.


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