New Delhi: The rupee became the fifth currency in the world to get a symbol, after the Union cabinet approved the choice of a jury set up to adjudge entries called for in an open competition, but the move is likely to be, at best, symbolic.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the symbol would appear on currency notes, and government officials said it was up to the Reserve Bank of India to decide.

The objective of picking a symbol is “to symbolize Indian rupee in writing", Ambika Soni, information and broadcasting minister, told the media after the cabinet’s decision.

The US dollar, Japanese yen, euro and the UK pound are the other currencies with symbols. The exercise to select the symbol for the rupee started after the Union government decided that a symbol would symbolize India’s increasing integration with the global economy.

The new symbol of the rupee. Reuters photo

Soni herself was unsure if the symbol would be embossed on currency notes.

Meanwhile, Rakesh Kumar Singh, an employee of the Uttar Pradesh state government, alleged there were irregularities in the selection process.

Singh, who had entered the competition to design a symbol, said he had sought information on the process under the Right to Information (RTI) Act as he suspected that bureaucratic bungling had vitiated the process.

Details of the replies to his RTI application are posted on the website

The seven-member jury was headed by RBI deputy governor Usha Thorat, and included representatives from the Central government and design institutes. She could not be reached for comment.

According to Soni, the cabinet’s discussions did not touch upon claims of flaws in the selection process.

“It was not discussed," Soni said. “(The) RTI query was neither raised nor discussed.

When asked about Singh’s claims about the selection process, a member of the jury, who did not want to be identified, said the jury was not aware of the RTI application.

As the aim of the entire process is to standardize the expression of the rupee globally, the symbol will be included in the Unicode standard for representation and processing of texts written in major scripts.

According to a government statement, the symbol will also be included in Indian standards, or Indian Script Code for Information Interchange (ISCII).

The ISCII specifies various codes for Indian languages processing on computers along with keyboard layouts.

The government statement added that the industry lobbies for Indian software and hardware companies, Nasscom and Manufacturers Association for Information Technology, or Mait, would ask their members to make changes needed to allow the rupee’s symbol to be used in texts.

According to Soni, the Central government would also ask states to encourage people to use the symbol to depict the rupee.