Zero Rupees

by wjw on January 27, 2010

A new weapon has been deployed in India’s war against official corruption— the zero rupee note.

. . . the idea was first conceived by an Indian physics professor at the University of Maryland, who, in his travels around India, realized how widespread bribery was and wanted to do something about it. He came up with the idea of printing zero-denomination notes and handing them out to officials whenever he was asked for kickbacks as a way to show his resistance. Anand took this idea further: to print them en masse, widely publicize them, and give them out to the Indian people. He thought these notes would be a way to get people to show their disapproval of public service delivery dependent on bribes. The notes did just that. The first batch of 25,000 notes were met with such demand that 5th Pillar has ended up distributing one million zero-rupee notes to date since it began this initiative. Along the way, the organization has collected many stories from people using them to successfully resist engaging in bribery.

Shash January 27, 2010 at 4:21 am

What a terrific idea! I hope it doesn't backfire – as in the officials remember who handed them the no-value notes and repays them in a nasty manner.

Michael Grosberg January 31, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Fascinating! A brilliant, original idea. I like it that a physics professor came up with it.

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