First things first. We love the new ‘rupee’ symbol. Not just for its subtle roman ‘R’ but more for the fact that we hate typing ‘Rs.’. Really. $120 is way cooler than Rs. 120. And the patriot in us is super-proud, as this signifies that India IS shining. It also gives us the bragging rights over our neighbours, which is especially important, considering the fact that the currency of Nepal and Pakistan is also called rupee. The symbol has ours distinguished, and rightly so!
But analysts say that the readers and writers at Digit would have to bear ‘Rs.’ for at least two more years. OK. A little gyan is needed here. The symbol’s primary purpose was to be used as a ‘character’ in computers and other devices, and for that to happen, it has to join the ‘standard list’ along with all other symbols you see on your keyboard. This list, known as ‘Unicode Standard’, is managed by the Unicode Consortium, which must receive the application for the inclusion of ‘rupee’ symbol from the Indian Government. Now this part of ‘sending by the Government’ is our bet for the bottleneck in the process. If and when this is received by the Unicode Consortium, our currency symbol would be encoded and allotted a code point in the next version of Unicode Standard. Now when the new version would be released, is another issue altogether.
While we are expecting to see ‘rupee’ symbol on our keyboards, or keypads any day now, this is not the case. No vendor can use the symbol before it enters the Unicode List. After that, the vendors’ part begins. Microsoft and Nokia, two of the largest companies in the computer and handheld spheres in India, have welcomed the new symbol and would give it a home in the devices as soon as it gets its Unicode code point.
For the users, Microsoft said, there would be no need of buying new software and an update would be provided on their current operating systems (obviously!). However, we see room for exploitation of the naïve as far as hardware is concerned, which reminds us of the mess that Y2K was. Keyboard manufacturers will definitely try to lure the corporates by advertising new keyboards, with the rupee symbol on them. But we, at Digit, vow that we would not let this happen. (Feel like Superman already!) Well, software can change one of the symbols on your current keyboards to type the ‘rupee’ symbol once it is a Unicode character. And we shall provide that as soon as this happens.
Editor's Note: There is a new font doing the rounds online, that maps the rupee symbol onto the '~' character (one above the tab key). Avoid it, because if the person viewing what you typed does not have the font, which most wouldn't, he will only see the '~' symbol. Besides, it is not standard. Download it for your amusement, here.