Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Zero Rupee Notes

I like good ideas, and this one qualifies. In India, where corruption (and the bribery that comes along with it) are a big problem, an organization called 5th Pillar has taken to printing zero rupee notes (so far it’s printed over one million of them). The basic premise is that when someone is confronted by a corrupt official for a bribe they give them the zero rupee note, allowing them to make a statement without having to say anything at all. According to the article the notes have been effective:

[Vijay] Anand [president of 5th Pillar] explained that a number of factors contribute to the success of the zero rupee notes in fighting corruption in India. First, bribery is a crime in India punishable with jail time. Corrupt officials seldom encounter resistance by ordinary people that they become scared when people have the courage to show their zero rupee notes, effectively making a strong statement condemning bribery. In addition, officials want to keep their jobs and are fearful about setting off disciplinary proceedings, not to mention risking going to jail. More importantly, Anand believes that the success of the notes lies in the willingness of the people to use them. People are willing to stand up against the practice that has become so commonplace because they are no longer afraid: first, they have nothing to lose, and secondly, they know that this initiative is being backed up by an organization–that is, they are not alone in this fight.

January 28, 2010