Rupee- A symbolic gesture

The new rupee symbol has been hogging the headlines, literally. Even the pink papers seem to be racing for fast implementation of the new Rupee symbol.

July 29, 2010 5:20 IST | India Infoline News Service

With due respect to Udaya Kumar, a PhD from IIT-Mumbai, who’s design was finally selected as the rupee symbol,  I am not sure whether it makes India feel like Superpower just because it has a symbol for its currency.  True it manages to join the so-called elite club of the US dollar, British pound-sterling, Euro and Japanese yen who have their own symbols. Sporting the rupee symbol surely will be in vogue. It may take some time to have it on our keyboards. For now I hear even Kaun Banega Crorepati will have the new rupee symbol in its logo.

The Indian currency’s respectability across the world in recent past is simply because in more and more locations one can convert Indian rupees to dollars or thai bhat or dirhams.

Somehow, our leaders also have misplaced notions of what are matters of national importance and pride. Just the creation of the symbol for the rupee does not deserve get so much accolades and media coverage as there are bigger and pressing problems facing India like inflation, undeserving subsidies,  inefficient delivery mechanisms, and breakdown in infrastructure. These are bigger problems for the country to solve than to talk about a symbol. In the olden days, all politicians and leaders wanted to create symbols. Perhaps, they had not heard of kings that continued building luxurious structures, monuments, palaces (even the Taj Mahal) so that generations later could ‘marvel’ at what they have created. In fact, the palace in Jodhpur was built during a famine. At least, the travel brochures said that this was a means for the king to feed the poor.

For  the rupee to become a truly globally traded currency, it does not depend so much on the symbol. What is more important is whether the country has capital controls and whether it is a freely traded currency. These are bigger macro questions that beg answers than to simply provide a symbol for the currency and then hope that it becomes the currency of choice.

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