With '$' taken, India looks for rupee symbol

In a world where the U.S. dollar, European euro, Japanese yen and British pound each have a symbol for their currency, the India rupee is trying to get in on the international monetary party.

The Indian government's search for the sign is an open competition that stipulates entries "should represent the historical and cultural ethos of India," according to a BBC News story.

If that's the requirement, then I'm hoping for a photo of Ghandi. If that doesn't work, then an "R" for rupee should do it.

Unfortunately, the deadline for contest entries was April 15, so we'll just have to wait and see which design wins, if any. Hopefully India won't go down the same route as Russia did in its unsuccessful search in the 1990s for a symbol to represent the ruble.

Designing an international currency symbol that will be a country's cultural icon and still represent its culture is a high demand. Historically, such symbols haven't been presented that way.

The origin of the dollar sign "$" is difficult to pin down. One idea is that it was derived from the Spanish peso, while another long-held belief is that it has origins in a numeral "8," denoting pieces of eight.

The European Commission's request in 1997 for a euro symbol was that it be a colorful logo and not so much a concept for a currency symbol. The official version of its creation is that is is a combination of the Greek epsilon as a sign of the weight of European civilization, an E for Europe, and the parallel lines crossing through stand for the stability of the euro.

No matter what the outcome of the rupee, it will probably take years for anyone, even people inside India, to get used to it. Many British newspapers still spell out "euro" because the symbol hasn't been installed on keyboards yet.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.AaronCrowe.net
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