India's New Currency Sign for Rupee: A Case Study

On 5 March 2009, the Indian government announced a contest to create a sign for the Indian rupee. During the Union Budget 2010, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee mentioned that the proposed sign would reflect and capture the Indian ethos and culture. Five signs created by Nondita Correa-Mehrotra, Hitesh Padmashali, Shibin KK, Shahrukh J Irani, and D Udaya Kumar had been short listed from around 3331 responses received and one of them was to be finalized at the Union Council of Ministers of India meeting held on 24 June 2010. The decision was deferred by a request of the Finance Minister, and it was decided when they met again on 15 July 2010, and selected the symbol created by Mr. Udaya Kumar. Mr. Udaya Kumar pursued his doctoral studies at IDC, IIT Bombay in 2010. His areas of interest include graphic design, typography, type design and design research with special focus on Tamil typography.

 

Design Philosophy Behind Rupee Symbol

 

The design philosophy of the symbol is derived from the Devanagari script, a traditional script deeply rooted in Indian culture. The symbol also seamlessly integrates the Latin script which is widely used around the world. This amalgamation traverses boundaries across cultures giving it a universal identity, at the same time symbolizing our cultural values and ethos at a global platform.

Simplicity of the visual form and imagery creates a deep impact on the minds of the people. And makes it easy to recognize, recall and represent by all age groups, societies, religions and cultures.

 

Direct communication

 

 

The symbol is designed using the Devanagari letter ‘Ra’ and Roman capital letter ‘R’. The letters are derived from the word 'Rupiah' in Hindi and 'Rupees' in English both of which denote the currency of India. The derivation of letters from these words conveys the association of the symbol with currency rupee. The symbol straightforwardly communicates the message of currency for both Indian and foreign nationals. In other words, a direct relationship is established between the symbol and the rupee.

 

Shiro Rekha

The use of 'Shiro Rekha' (the horizontal top line or 'head' line) in Devanagari script is unique to India. Devanagari script is the only script where letters hang from the top line and does not sit on a baseline. The symbol preserves this unique and essential feature of our Indian script which is not seen in any other scripts in the world. It also clearly distinguishes itself from other symbols and establishes a sign of Indian origin. It explicitly states the Indian-ness of the symbol.

 

Tricolor

The two horizontal lines with an equal negative white space (imaginary space) between them create a foreground and background effect of three strips (tricolor). The strips subtly represent the tricolor of Indian national flag flying at the top.

 

Harmony in design

The symbol is designed in harmony with the other existing currency symbols of the world. It forms a part of the family and at the same retaining its individuality. It does not stand out radically but is in unison with other symbols. This uniformity establishes a clear understanding and association of the symbol with currency across the globe.