I’ve carried on about corruption in India a fair amount in this blog, but, to be fair, I’ve never mentioned the large number of Indians fighting corruption in their own country. Here’s a solution from one anti-corruption leader that is funny, impressive, and, well, sort of baffling:
Yes. A group in India called The Fifth Pillar has been printing zero rupee notes for almost 20 years as a way to fight official demands for bribes. (Shoutout to Alex for telling me about this story.) When citizens face officials–policemen, government bureaucrats, municipal civil servants–who are demanding baksheesh, they simply hand them this fake money instead of real rupees. Most officials are apparently either intimidated or impressed enough to accept it instead of actual currency. This is exciting for the average Indian citizen, who, CNN tells me, apparently pays at least Rs 100,00 ($2225 USD) in bribes during his lifetime.
I’m still not totally clear on how this works, but a boing boing article on the same subject quotes a Fifth Pillar leader:
“One such story was our earlier case about the old lady and her troubles with the Revenue Department official over a land title. Fed up with requests for bribes and equipped with a zero rupee note, the old lady handed the note to the official. He was stunned. Remarkably, the official stood up from his seat, offered her a chair, offered her tea and gave her the title she had been seeking for the last year and a half to obtain without success. Had the zero rupee note reached the old lady sooner, her granddaughter could have started college on schedule and avoided the consequence of delaying her education for two years.“
Emphasis mine. Frustration everyone’s.