India’s Zero Rupee Note against Corruption

This weeks The Economist carries a very interesting article discussing a small innovative idea by an Indian to denounce the rampant corruption spread across India. The idea was dreamt up by an expatriate Indian physics professor from the University of Maryland who, traveling back home, found himself harassed by endless extortion demands. He gave the notes to the importuning officials as a polite way of saying no. The notes tend to work because corrupt officials so rarely encounter resistance that they get scared when they do. And ordinary people are more willing to protest, since the notes have an organization behind them and they do not feel on their own.

Simple ideas like this don’t always work but its at least start of resistance against corruption…. The immediate question that comes to my mind – will such a system work in Pakistan, being ranked as 134th country Corruption Perception Index, the 5th Pillar organization has already designed a Pakistani Rs 10 as a Zero Currency, but I believe it still needs to be fine tuned [by a graphic designer?] into maybe in a more commonly used Rs 50 denomination plastered with elaborate markings signifying the importance of this zero denomination and maybe an elaborate explanation, like the ones printed on the back of the Indian rupee, denouncing corruption. Whatever be the plan, I believe we would need to bank roll a couple of billions to even begin to scratch the surface of state sponsored [read Presidency sponsored] corruption



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8 responses to “India’s Zero Rupee Note against Corruption”

  1. Zuhaib Avatar

    Nice idea but got legality of them would scare me. Just think if some cops smartens up and decided to arrest you for, oh, possessing counterfeit bills. So now your arrested for a pretty big crime and you have a pissed off cop who you tried to rip off. Not a good situation.
    Also if your travleing from the US with notes like this, you can get in more trouble.

    I love the idea, screw over those who demand bribes but maybe some proper changes could be called for.

    1. Karthik Avatar

      You definitely won't have any legal issues by using the zero rupee note in India (and probably in Pak too). The size of zero rupee note is bigger than the original currency note. Also, only one side is printed like currency and the other side has details about 5th Pillar. You might see legal issues only if you have both side resembling the currency.

  2. Mo Baba Avatar

    We need these notes! Tens of millions of them! Its a great initiative by the Prof.

  3. Saahil K Avatar
    Saahil K

    Speaking of corruption, I have an experience to relate.

    My company wanted to send me for a stint to the US and that’s when I realized my passport had expired! I immediately started work to renew it with the Mumbai passport office. And I have never been through a more painful experience. The innumerable visits to the passport office, scrambling to get all the paperwork together – trust me, it was a nightmare! But the worst was yet to come – the police verification. I received a call from the cop saying he would be coming home for the verification. Well he did turn up, and after doing a cursory check, he blatantly made it clear that the forms would only be cleared at their end in case he got a lil something from us. Ashamed to say it, but I did give him a lil something, cos I was in such a rush. But that’s also when I decided that I will do something about it.

    I really didn't know how I can make a difference. I asked myself, Can I really stop corruption? Although, I had a lot of doubts I was determined to do something. I started asking my friends and colleagues whether they know of any organisation that fights corruption. That’s when a friend suggested that I register myself on , since the website has a database of NGOs. I immediately did that, and have even started working on a project with an NGO. I’ve never felt so proud of myself.

  4. Nazia Avatar

    Adopting neutral acts like that and hiring neutral genders for ending corruption in our system.
    I can assure you that the most corrupt characters would come forward to hijack this trend as show off of fake honesty here.
    Acceptance,declaration and then punishment are practical ways to handle corruption and taking support of neutral ways are just cosmetic ideas that can only touch the hearts of honest people who are very rare in both countries.

  5. dr jawwad khan Avatar
    dr jawwad khan

    i believe in 7 rupee bullet made in "barha" to fight against corruption.

  6. farrahshah Avatar

    the thing is poor awam has no money to give as a Rishwat …

    jo Rishwat laitai hain woh hee daitai hain.

    People even middle class cannot afford to send their children to medical college or any prestigeous college because of the fee ,so who can afford to throw money away?

  7. Sadia Hussain Avatar
    Sadia Hussain

    What an innovative idea I must say! We must come up with a Pakistani version of zero-rupee note and I believe it will be popular amongst the masses. We as a nation need to deplore corruption as it’s a two way process no one can be bribed unless someone is willing to do so. Transparency is needed for progress as corruption needs to curbed if not eradicated