The drive against corruption and bribes has taken a new turn in India. The zero rupee experiment started in Chennai is now reaching other parts of the country.
The Zero Rupee campaign against corruption and bribes is started by an Indian NGO 5th pillar , which identifies the common man (you and me) as the fifth pillar of democracy apart from the standard four pillars of Administrative, Executive, Judiciary and Press.
The common term used by corrupt bureaucrats and politicians to ask for bribe is to make Gandhi smile on them. This is because a smiling picture of Gandhiji is present on all Indian currency notes.
To counter corruption, the 5th pillar has come out with a Zero Rupees note which is a direct copy of a 50 Rupee note of India, except for the fact that as the name suggests Zero Rupees note has no value as it is not a true currency note.
5th pillar is distributing thousands of these notes to the common man so that they can give this note to those who ask bribe, who at first glance would think it to be a valid currency, only to be reminded of the wrong they are doing!
There is a message on the note which reads Eliminate corruption at all levels, and this is enough to remind a person of his crime and to instigate a feeling of guilt in the bribe receiver. The campaign is called Freedom from corruption .
While the normal Indian currency note contains a pledge by the Reserve Bank of India reading I promise to pay the bearer a sum of x rupees , the zero rupee note will carry the pledge I promise to neither accept nor give bribe !
The campaign started on August 4th this year, and has already paid dividends to many. For instance, an autorickshaw driver was pulled over by a traffic policeman demanding bribe to let him go, and when the driver gave this note as bribe, he was first shocked on seeing it properly, but then smiled and let the driver go!
The campaign might not be a 100% success. But there is no harm in trying it out. It will definitely make a lot of difference when a person is not refusing to pay bribe and yet does not pay the bribe. but instead passes on a message not to against corruption!!
Think of the embarrassing situation the officers will be in when their colleagues or family members see these zero rupee currency notes with them, and make fun of them Zero kya!
I think this campaign will work like an unrecorded sting operation. Stung, but not exposed on camera :)
By the way Bihar is the most corrupt state in India, while Kerala is the least corrupt. Good going mallus! Hope other states will catch up soon. The campaign is currently on in another south Indian state, Tamilnadu. The notes are also in circulation in Andhra pradesh and also in Mumbai. Looks like the booming south India will be the one to get rid of all these corruption menace sooner than the North.
North Indian states like UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, etc have still a lot to catch up. The only North Indian state I know which has undergone a great amount of developmental work in the past 8-10 years is Gujarat under the leadership of Narendra Modi. For the third consecutive term his government is all set to win the upcoming elections in December, thanks to his great works that have benefited the common man. The recent opininion polls in the state have indicated a clear majority for Narendra Modi, a rare scenario in India where otherwise usually the ruling party will be voted out due to incumbency!
In 2005 the Right to Information Act was passed by the government of India as a way of holding government departments, agencies and officials accountable. According to this law, any Indian citizen can access government records within 30 days of their request. This would help people to question and know the status of their requests, applications, etc to the government agencies, reasons for delay, etc. In other words, if a public officer is delaying processing of requests/applications expecting bribe, then he would be held accountable as there would be no explanation the officer can provide for the delay. Obviously he cant say that he was waiting for the bribe :)
5th pillar also has setup a 24/7 call center in Chennai to help public deal with corrupt officials and authorities. The call center will also guide common man about how to benefit from the RTI act and use it to get the information they require.
Good going India. Any thing well started is half done!