Friday, July 16, 2010

The New Face Of The Indian Currency

The Indian Cabinet finalized a symbol for its currency, the Indian Rupee on Thursday July 15th 2010, denoting the strength of its growing economy joining a select club of countries whose currencies have a unique identity. The Indian Rupee today became the fifth currency in the world to get its unique symbol which is an amalgam of the Devnagiri Script 'Ra' and the Roman capital 'R' without the stem and two parallel lines running at the top symbolizing an equality sign.

India retains the reputation of developing the concept of coinage and issued some of the earliest coins in the history of mankind, which were the base for other currencies of the world. Continuing on the trails of its golden heritage, the Indian Rupee, the currency of Modern day India has formalized a new symbol for the Indian rupee, which reflects and captures the Indian ethos and culture. The Indian rupee is one of the well-established currencies in the world and in terms of sheer volume, the Indian Rupee is one of the most widely used financial instrument in the world currently being used by almost 20% of the world's population. With India becoming the hotbed of financial investment in recent times, the Indian Rupee is now ready to write a new chapter to complement its glorious past heritage. The significant strength exhibited by the Indian rupee in the recent years along with the continued good performance of the Indian economy have raised the issue of greater internationalization of the Indian rupee. Developing an important brand for the wider Indian economy among international investors and highlighting India's increasing global economic ambitions, the country has joined an elite group as the Indian cabinet approved a new symbol for its national currency emulating the pound, the euro, the dollar and the yen in having its unique distinguishing identity.

Until now, the most common notation for the Indian Rupee “Rs.” was used also being used by several Asian nations including Pakistan, leading international traders to rely on the clunky “INR” to distinguish it. The new symbol will distinguish the Indian currency from currencies of other countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Indonesia which also use the word "rupee" or "rupiah" to identify their respective currencies. The new symbol, a combination of the Devnagiri script 'Ra' and the Roman capital 'R', will be used by all individuals and entities after its incorporation in `Unicode Standard’, ‘ISO/IEC 10646’ and ‘IS 13194’.

The need for the symbol had become necessary because of the Indian economy's rapid growth, which has propelled it to become one of the largest economies of the world. The unique symbol for the Indian currency comes after the Reserve Bank of India recently published a study looking into the potential of the rupee to be used in international trade and even as a possible reserve global currency, given the problems confronting the US economy and the dollar. The Indian rupee has been one of the best performing currencies among emerging market economies in the first quarter of 2010, beat currencies from other emerging market economies like Brazil, Russia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and South Korea.

Currently, Indian rupee is available only in the denomination of Re.1 and Rs.2 coins and notes ranging from Rs.5 to Rs.1000. Paisa coins valuing 25p and 50p are rarely used. A unique feature of the Indian rupee note is its language panel, which depicts what that denomination is called in 15 of the 22 official national languages of India. The Indian currency has been one of the strongest in South Asia but has been hampered in recent times by illegal activities of fake currency notes being pumped into its borders from neighboring countries like Pakistan and Nepal. The attempt to pump in fake notes to destabilize and devalue the Indian currency has so far not had much of an impact on its robust growth mechanism which is backed by solid foundations and deep economic reforms. The publishing and printing of fake Indian currency continues to be a headache for the Indian government as it has started to use fine quality paper and inks that are difficult to imitate. Although India’s currency is on a surge, and it has made its mark as the top-performing currency the extent to which the symbol will gain international usage and cache remains to be seen. The rupee has grown increasingly stable in value. Versus the dollar, it made strong gains until the global flight to the dollar at the height of the worldwide financial crisis.

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The Indian Elephant Marches Strong

If airports were to be a barometer of a country’s economic progress, Indian airports were way behind and didn’t even come in the top 50 airports of the world. With the emergence of new world-class airports of Bangalore and Hyderabad, Delhi's international airport is now among top five airports of the world. Not so long ago, a report published by Foreign Policy, a bi-monthly published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace had listed India's Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi among the world’s worst five airports. The report had mentioned how New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport had completely failed to benefit from the country's celebrated economic expansion. From being voted last year as the worst five in the world to the sixth largest in the world (area wise), things have finally improved for the New Delhi international airport as its swanky new terminal T3 becomes fully operational. At 5,02,000 sq m, T3 will be the sixth largest terminal in the world after Dubai International's T3, which is 15,00,000 sq m, Beijing Capital International Airport (9,86,000 sq m) and Madrid's Bajaras Airport.

With the emergence of India as a hotbed of global business and investment, It was only fair that New Delhi's airport was a welcoming sight showcasing the economic marvel of India to the visitors. New Delhi, which is not only the hotbed of the Indian political structure also hosts the headquarters of some of the biggest global companies of the world. While companies like Pepsi, Coke, Nestle, British Airways and others have been around for a while, innumerable MNCs such as Genpact, IBM, Microsoft, WNS, ESPN, American Express, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Canon, Nokia, Ericsson, Sapient and ABN Amro have in the last few months made a beeline for commercial spaces in New Delhi's satellite town of Gurgaon, most of them moving their headquarters to the new premises.

The Indian economic marvel story has been in the news for quite some time now. India's young, educated workforce, expanding factory output and smart fiscal policies has been propelling its economy at a fast pace and has an expected GDP growth of 7-8% in CY 2010 while developed markets had been growing at around 2%. The Indians were always knows to posses deep rooted entrepreneurial traits but nothing demonstrates the entrepreneurial traits of the average Indian like the spanking new ultra modern airport terminal (T3) in New Delhi that is expected to handle 34 million passengers annually with ease.

What’s more impressive than the smooth operationalization of the terminal is the fact that the new airport terminal was completed in a record time of 37 months from the date of the concept being approved by the government. Considering that Singapore's Changi Airport's T3 took 76 months for completion and Heathrow's new Terminal 5 took 60 months, the new terminal T3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport underlines the impressive India growth story. The new airport terminal befits the world’s second fastest growing major economy that sees itself as an economic, intellectual and military, superpower in the next decade.

Designed by Mott MacDonald and HOK architects and consultants of the UK, the building used up over 6,00,000 cubic m of concrete, equivalent to 240 Olympic-size swimming pools, 1.1 million cubic m of earthwork; the embankment filling used for the runway is sufficient to build a 70-km, eight-lane highway. More than 1,00,000 MT of rebar- reinforcing steel was used-nearly four times the amount that went into the construction of the Howrah Bridge in Kolkata. And 95,000 sq m of glass wall curtains on the terminal building equal the size of 13 football fields. The impressive statistics of the airport have been telegraphed around the world: nine levels, three runways, 168 check-in counters, 78 aerobridges and a car park for 4,300. In terms of sheer size, quantum of investments and integration of passenger facilities, it is a big milestone for the aviation industry of the country. With 48 boarding gates, 78 aerobridges, 168 check-in counters, 95 immigration counters and capacity to handle 34 million passengers per annum, there is no match for T3. Direct metro connectivity and an airport hotel are added attractions. The swanky T3 would also be “barrier free” to suit the requirements of passengers with “special needs or reduced mobility”. The real success story of the New Delhi airport constructed by Delhi International Airport (P) Ltd (DIAL), a subsidiary of GMR holdings is that the company was able to demonstrate to the world that it is possible to think of investments to the tune of $3 billion in an airport project in India.

World's Largest Airport Terminals

* Dubai T3 - 1,500,000 sq m
* Beijing T3 - 986,000 sq m
* Hong Kong T2 - 570,000 sq m
* Bangkok Suvarnabhumi - 563,000 sq m
* Mexico City T2 - 548,000 sq m
* Delhi T3 - 502,000 sq m
* Madrid T4 - 470,000 sq m

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