No, we’re not kidding. This is really a thing. Gone are the days when you needed to have meaningless conversations with cops, laden with hints toward a monetary reward for absolutely no reason. Most of us have paid cops bribes with money, cigarettes, even chai. This one time a cop bullied me into handing over three laddoos. Well, not any more. Your late night police checkpoint escapades can now be cut down drastically with the advent of this quirky little note.

How about paying a bribe with a ‘Zero Rupee’ note?

A physics professor based out of the United States is credited with the invention of the concept.

Satindar Mohan Bhagat, a physics professor based in the US, is credited with the creation of the concept. Bhagat found himself frustrated with the petty extortion demands of government officials, and thought of a token that would make his involvement in the act bribery null and void, with some tongue-in-cheek humour of course.

In 2007, a non-profit organization called 5th Pillar came up with a way to put Bhagat’s concept into practice.

Hence, the ‘Zero Rupee’ note was born. President of 5th Pillar, Vijay Anand, expressed satisfaction with the programme. He said, “People have already started using them and it is working. One auto-rickshaw driver was pulled over by a policeman in the middle of the night who said he could go if he was ‘taken care of’. The driver gave him the note instead. The policeman was shocked but smiled and let him go. The purpose of this is to instill confidence in people to say no to bribery.”

Shaped like a ₹50 note, the slip has contact details on the back, in case you were met with resistance.

The objective of the note is to eradicate corruption not only on the superficial level but also on a cultural level. Few cops try to object to, or resist, the embarrassment. But anyone using the note can contact required authorities mentioned on the note to take action against corrupt officials.

Over 3 million notes have been distributed across the country.

The 5th Pillar are hoping to keep expanding and provide every voiceless and oppressed individual in the country to be able to take a stand against corruption. By now, there are over 5 lakh signatures on the petition that pledge their allegiance to stand against corrupt officials. And the organisation will not rest till the fight is over.

Wondering where to get these notes? You can get them from their website here. 

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