Symbol of ambition

First Edit

The creation of a symbol for the rupee is a sign of national ambition and confidence. It would have been impossible to imagine at the time of independence over 50 years ago or when the economic liberalisation started some 20 years ago that we would want a visual representation for the national currency. But the proposal to create one, come to think of it, is entirely in character. As a people, symbols and images have always had a fascination for us and we have expressed ourselves in the language of symbols in our mythology, philosophy and arts more keenly and fervently than many other peoples. The Ultimate has been represented through ages as a visual and verbal symbol. The currency is the most material of human realities with imagination usually attending to it only in greed and hope, but to dematerialise it in a visual notation is an act of national projection of power.

The sign of the rupee may not be of any immediate consequence and will not bring any returns. The rupee is not a popular international currency and will not in the foreseeable future be a global reserve currency. The bulk of India’s trade is done in dollars. The Chinese yuan is closely behind the dollar in importance and acceptability. It still does not have a symbol though the Chinese are also great at creating symbols. Only very few currencies like the dollar, the euro, the pound and the yen have symbols now. With the acceptance by the government of the design created by an IIT post-graduate scholar, India has joined that exclusive club. There is bound to be debate on the design, but it satisfies the basic parameters of Indianness, simplicity and uniqueness couched in commonality. Its future as an icon of international commerce will depend on India’s growth as an economic power. There are decades for it to make a mark in financial statements and find its way into computer keyboards, tickers and minds.

A symbol in itself is only a shape and becomes live and potent only when it is infused with human sentiment and energy. It is a tool for communication and a statement of identity, like the national flag or the national emblem. The sign of the rupee is a sign of aspiration now and will hopefully, through passage of time and usage, become a store of emotional value and a flag of economic honour.

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