The Daily WORD is ZERO RUPEE
Here in India, the majority of “free” services are obtained only by bribing an official – a land title, electrical hook-up, a certificate of marriage, birth, divorce, death. Whatever the free service, the petty official knows that bribery is illegal, yet the requester is at his mercy.
This is especially hard on the poor. Say a father needs a land title as collateral for a loan to send his son to college. The family has sacrificed since the child was born for the good elementary and high schools that qualify him for the all important university education. The extra 50 rupees for the bribe are totally out of reach. The son will have to wait another year so they can save for the bribe.
An organization called “Fifth Pillar” started printing “zero rupee” bank notes. They look just like paper rupees, but beneath the text ELIMINATE CORRUPTION AT ALL LEVELS and beside a picture of Gandhi is the boldly written ZERO RUPEES.
People are using zero rupee notes with gusto. One million have been printed.
The typical response of the petty official is fear – he knows the supplicant knows bribery is illegal – and he just might Tell Someone Higher Up. Or, the organization that printed the Zero Rupee note might take him to court. The petty official could lose his job, go to jail. Often the supplicant is offered a cup of tea along with his land title or other important paper he has been seeking for months, even years.
When national and local laws are not enforced and UN sanctions are ignored, a little tool in the hands of the poor and disenfranchised can move mountains. Microcredit is such a tool – and so are zero rupee notes!