Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 223 - The Power of Paper Money

Before Europe had the one-money-fits-all-Euro, there were different currencies for each country.  The exchange rates fluctuated and it was a full-time job just to keep up with all of the rates.  I remember for our Senior class trip we traveled to Niagara Falls on the Canada side and had to do the math.  We ended up doubling our money because one dollar was equal to two Canadian dollars.  In India, the common currency is a Rupee.  Recently I read that India has printed free money.  Sounds insane right?

The truth of the statement if we dig a little deeper is actually quite fascinating.  The currency is designed to look like a standard Indian currency but the notes are larger than the actual rupee bill and printed on thicker paper.  This design is with a specific purpose to discourage the folding of the Zero Rupee.  The reason is in India, bribes are passed with folded rupee bills.  5th Pillar is Grassroot group created by Vijay Anand and he is trying to discourage illegal demands that are deeply ingrained in the Indian culture from police and bureaucrats.  By printing and passing out the zero rupee worth nothing at all, this is a polite protest to these officials who are trying to be corrupt and feel entitled to rip off the general public of rightful public services.

The effect has been to shame or even scare some public servants who are trying to squeeze extra payment for routine services like issuing drivers licenses or loans.  These same officials can go to jail if they're caught.  So far the group 5th Pillar has distributed 1.3 million of these Zero Rupees. This is the right thing to do for the customs of India.  In America, we have whistle blowers protection and consumer protection agencies.  In India it is their custom to be docile, so this is a nonviolent resistance.  Gandhi would have been proud [taken from National Geographic] after all his photo is on the bill.  So money can actually buy integrity for the price of Zero Rupees.  Now that is my kind of deal.

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