A Non-Violent Weapon of Non-Cooperation Against Corruption
Have you heard of the ZERO-RUPEE NOTE, yet? Many of you may wonder what the use of it is. Well, All Indians face Corruption in almost all public and government offices.
Corruption in India is a major issue that adversely affects its economy. In 2014 India ranked 85th out of 175 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, compared to its neighbors Bhutan (30th), Bangladesh (145th), Myanmar (156th), China (100th), Nepal (126th), Pakistan (126th) and Sri Lanka (85th).
ZERO-RUPEE NOTE is designed to fight against corruption in an innovative way. Yes, a zero rupee note is a type of novel & innovative money issued in India as a means of helping to fight systemic political corruption. The notes are paid in protest by angry citizens to government functionaries who solicit bribes in return for services which are supposed to be free.
The Zero Rupee Note(ZRN) is a simple currency-like looking tool designed to resemble the Rupee Fifty currency in India, but made larger than the Rupee Thousand note, with an Anti-bribery Pledge replacing the Reserve Bank Governor’s pledge of the actual money’s tender. The front of the ZRN has “I PROMISE TO NEITHER ACCEPT NOR GIVE BRIBE” printed on the front bottom center. The organization’s contact info and an anti-bribery appeal (“If anyone demands a bribe, give this note and report the case”) is also printed on the ZRN. The moment a corrupt government employee receives the note, he or she is shaken up a bit and immediately responds to the situation in a friendly and helpful manner simply to avoid getting into the bribe-radar and therefore the ZRN proves to be a simple, strong and effective “Non-violent weapon of Non-cooperation” giving voice to the “voiceless” and power to the “powerless”.
SIGNING A CONTRACT WITH MY COUNTRY: Students and the public were urged to sign on huge Zero Rupee Note banners of 30 ft in length and 15 ft in height which were carried to more than 1200 schools, colleges and public meetings in the last 5 years, thereby obtaining more than 5 lakh signatures from citizens as a mark of endorsement to their „Zero corruption‟ pledge that “I will neither receive nor give bribe” which is printed on the bottom of the front side of the Zero Rupee Note.
Incidentally, India is the origin of an explicit symbol denoting zero.
Zero rupee notes have been issued in five of the 22 scheduled languages of India: Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, and Telugu.
Distribution: The Zero rupee note, is the mascot or primary campaign tool of a non-governmental organization known as 5th Pillar. Zero Rupee Notes were distributed by 5th Pillar volunteers in railway stations, bus stations, market places to raise awareness about bribery and reminding the public of their rights and alternative solutions that are otherwise available. Information desks were set up at the entrance of marriage halls during wedding ceremonies, birthday parties and social gatherings and Zero Rupee notes are distributed and information booklets and pamphlets were distributed. They have distributed over 2.5 million pieces as of Aug 2014, since their inception in 2007. The notes remain in current use and thousands of notes are distributed every month.
Number of factors contributes to the success of the Zero Rupee Notes in fighting corruption in India. First, bribery is a crime in India punishable with suspension and jail time. Corrupt officials seldom encounter resistance by ordinary people that they become scared when people have the courage to show their Zero Rupee Notes, effectively making a strong statement condemning bribery. In addition, officials want to keep their jobs and are fearful about setting off disciplinary proceedings, not to mention risking going to jail. I believe that the success of the notes lies in the willingness of the people to use them. People are willing to stand up against the practice that has become so commonplace because they are no longer afraid: first, they have nothing to lose, and secondly, they know that this initiative is being backed up by an organization–that is, they are not alone in this fight.
To know more about zero currencies of various countries who adopted the concept for overcoming corruption, check zerocurrency.org/