Monday, May 14, 2012

Insignia of Protest (2): Zero-Currency Notes

This way of protesting against corruption, especially bribery, is originated in India. It is based on Gandhi's idea of peaceful non cooperation directly applied to civil servants and government officials who request extra payment from citizens. It is a polite way to say "No!" in a country where corruption is a deeply rooted habit and a majority of its people has first-hand experiences with it (see also "Corruption in India"). But it is also a way of shaming and scaring functionaries feeling all too safe. For this purpose, the zero-rupee banknote was introduced to the public by the non-governmental organization 5th Pillar, in 2007.

In an obvious case of attempted bribery, the banknote is to be handed out by the victim directly to the official. Then the case should be made public. Here's an example reported to the 5thpillar :

"Mr. Ashok Jain got his car towed in Chennai. When he went to the C1 police station, he was asked Rs 800 as fine. He was ready to pay the amount in return for a receipt, which they were not willing to give. After much talking and convincing, he called his friend Vinod Jain who handed a Zero Rupee Note to one of the policemen. When he did that, they realized that he was a part of the 5th Pillar organisation and without any further questions they asked him to pay the marked fine of Rs 150 and handed him the receipt immediately."

Other success stories can be read on the 5thpillar website. Watch also this nice Bollywood style video: The Zero Rupee Note - A Short Film

Other countries: In Bosnia, another NGO called "Centre for Responsible Democracy", introduced the “I give zero marks for bribes" campaign in June 2011.

See also: Insignia of Protest (1): Shoes and Shoeing


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