Imagine going to a government office to get some work done. The “babu” there refuses to sign on your file until you give him some “chai-paani”. What will you do in such a case? You can:
1) comply to his demand and be a part of the crowd of lacs of Indians cribbing about bribery while actually promoting it.
2) Try a “Lage Raho Munna Bhai” stunt.
3) Give him a ZERO RUPEE note.
Yeah, you heard it right- a zero rupee note.
Before I proceed with the whole story, special thanks to TEDxHitechCity for bringing together people who think “beyond boundaries”, to share ideas that are “worth spreading”. It was at this event that I came to know about this and many other wonderful ideas and initiatives.
Coming back to our story, 5th Pillar-an NGO aimed at fighting corruption, has come up with this unique concept of giving a zero rupee note to officials who asks for bribe.
According to Mr. Vijay Anand, president of 5th Pillar, the idea was first dreamt by an Indian physics professor from the University of Maryland who, during his visit to India, saw the widespread roots of bribery in the country and decided to give printed zero-denomination notes to corrupt officials as a way of showing resistance. Mr. Anand took this idea to a step further: he got these notes printed and distributed on a wide scale. He believed that these notes will help people show their disapproval towards bribes, and shame corrupt officials.
What is this zero-rupee note?
It is simply a piece of paper of the color of a 50-rupee note with a picture of Gandhiji on it and a value of nothing. There is a pledge written on it:
I Promise To Neither Accept Nor Give Bribe
Though valueless, these notes are not worthless.
Does it really work?
For those who are skeptical about its success, the idea has received so much support from the people that the organization has already printed and distributed 1million such notes since 2007. An article about this also appeared in The Economist recently. Link.
Reason behind the success of the idea
Mr. Anand thinks these notes work because:
1) Corrupt officials so rarely encounter resistance that they get scared when they do, and,
2) Ordinary people are more willing to protest, because they are no longer afraid, as they know that this initiative is backed up by an organization-that they are not alone in this fight.
Where can you get these notes from?
These notes are available for download in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam from 5th Pillar’s site.
People from other countries can also download these notes in their language and currency from http://zerocurrency.org/index.html
We already have four pillars of democracy- the legislature, executive, judiciary and the media. Let all the socially conscious, patriotic citizens come forward and take a pledge to support the Nation by being its 5th pillar.