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Zero Rupee Note

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

zero rupee note

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.

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15 Responses to Zero Rupee Note

  1. Addy February 24, 2010 at 4:14 am #

    This is a nice idea! But, I still doubt its success against the shameless babus and corrupt officials of our great(actually, truly, really) country!

  2. Anshul February 24, 2010 at 11:37 am #

    Addy, i agree it may be difficult to abolish corruption completely through this idea, but it's better to make a start somewhere. And its not just the "babus" who are to be blamed, we are equally responsible. To jump the lines and the process to get our work done fast, we are willing to pay bribes. When we are stopped at signals by policeman for violating traffic rules, instead of paying fine we want an easy way out- by paying him bribe. For the system to change, for the idea to work, we need to change ourselves first. Be the change you want to be. And then you won't need a zero rupee note.

  3. siddharth.agarwal February 24, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    Thinking about the success/failure of this initiative is like a bit early but definitely 5th pillar concept will work. I am sure about it and your determination 🙂

  4. Anshul February 24, 2010 at 11:53 am #

    Thanks for showing your support buddy.. We need more people like you 🙂

  5. Savvadi February 25, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    The idea seems to be good.. but i'm also little skeptical about its success.

    but thanks alot for giving us an exposure to this fantastic initiative…

  6. Hummer February 27, 2010 at 8:26 am #

    Anshul, you seem like a person looking for the positive in life. I wish your endeavor well. I am not of your country, but I hope it all ends well. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Anshul February 27, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    @ Hummer
    Thanks for the wishes :).. Its the support and love given by you all that helps in coming up with these posts..Thanks a lot to all you readers.. 🙂

  8. saju March 31, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    Doing something is better than nothing. Good creative effort!

  9. Ankit April 1, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

    LOL! Simply great. 🙂

  10. shashank April 23, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    man u rock…. kaha khoye huey they is duniya ki bhid mein….

  11. Anshul April 23, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    @ Saju
    Well said. Its better than cribbing about the faulty system.

    @ Ankit
    I agree. That's a great idea.

    Thanks man 🙂 I'll suggest you to subscribe to our newsletter so that we don't lose contact again 🙂

  12. Gourav Jain August 15, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    Nice, I have never heard about that. Thanks to you buddy for bringing it to light !!

  13. mohan February 21, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    great blogs ,i have come across this blog from fb from the fake unesco announcement of national anthem, and after that continued reading 6 0r 7 posts ,really all blogs are very good,keep it up

  14. Anshul February 21, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    @Gourav: Hope you'll use it when needed!!

    @Mohan: Thanks a lot Mohan. Hope to meet your expectations in future too.

  15. mohan February 23, 2011 at 4:57 am #

    its nice if u write some blogs on education system or else provide a correct rankings of all the enginneering ,medical colleges in india as there r many fake rankings and many misunderstandings in education system, like every deemed university follow their own rules but i think they should follow the rules provided by ugc

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