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V13 2010 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 5, January 31, 2010, Article 19

THE ZERO RUPEE BRIBERY NOTE

Loren Gatch writes:

The links below describes a distinctive protest movement in India against the omnipresent nuisance of bribery: the use of the "zero rupee" note. Paid to grasping public officials instead of genuine money, the zero rupee note symbolizes the fight against bureaucratic corruption and dishonesty. The movement has been active for a couple of years

Zero Rupees

In the secret language of corruption in India, an official expecting a bribe will ask for Mahatma Gandhi to "smile" at him. The revered leader of the independence movement is on all denominations of rupee notes.

With rampant dishonesty ingrained in the bureaucratic culture, an anticorruption group has decided to interpret the euphemism literally by issuing a zero-rupee note.

A direct copy of the 50-rupee note, including Gandhi's portrait, it is designed to be handed out to officials who demand backhanders.

In the place of the usual promise of redemption by the central bank governor, the new pledge is: "I promise to neither accept nor give bribe."

5th Pillar, the organisation behind the initiative, says that the note will allow ordinary Indians to make a statement against corruption without provoking a confrontation with people in authority.

It has printed 25,000 notes and is distributing them in the southern city of Chennai as part of a wider mission to stamp out corruption "at all levels of society".

Corruption is part of the daily routine in India. Whether an individual needs to get a phone line, renew a passport or dodge a speeding ticket, the process normally involves a bribe. Most officials get away with it because of a general lack of awareness about citizens' rights.

Interesting item! I'm not aware of other "bribery money". Has something like this been attempted elsewhere? -Editor

To read the complete article, see: Can this note stamp out corruption in a land where it's the norm? (www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article1629446.ece)

To read another article, see: Paying Zero for Public Services (blogs.worldbank.org/publicsphere/paying-zero-public-services)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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