A zero rupee note is a type of novel and 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 is the mascot or primary campaign tool of a non-governmental organization known as 5th Pillar which has, since their inception in 2007, distributed over 2.5 million notes as of August 2014. The notes remain in current use and thousands of notes are distributed every month.
The Zero Rupee Note (ZRN) is a simple currency-like tool designed to resemble the fifty rupee note in India, but made larger than the thousand rupee note, with an anti-bribery pledge replacing the Reserve Bank Governor’s pledge on the actual money. 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”. Thousands of success stories out of the 2.5 million distributed Zero Rupee Notes have been recorded.