Thursday, 27 January 2011

The Zero Yuan Banknote

Listening to Chris Morris' item on BBC Radio 4's From Our Own Correspondent this morning, I started wondering how the Zero Rupee Note printed and distributed by the Indian NGO "5th Pillar" might work in a Chinese context.

In India (so I'm led to understand, though I've never been), paying fees to officials for services that should be free is a way of life. Sounds a lot like China to me. Apparently an Indian professor hit upon the idea as a way for citizens to register their protest at bribery by handing over a valueless note when asked for a bribe, both to make a point there and then and to send a wider message to corrupt officials that there's an organized body of people opposing corruption. Yes, that's technically the PSB's job in China, but they're not making that good a fist of it, are they?

So, to get the ball rolling, I scanned a $50,000,000 Bank of Hell note and, in what must surely rank as one of the most swingeingly effective deflationary acts in the history of Hades, revalued it. Okay, it's not the most convincing of forgeries, but I'm only working with iPhoto and Mac Pages.

5th Pillar's website, by the way, appears to be permanently unobtainable. Perhaps it's been pre-emptively harmonized by Net Nanny?

Disclaimer. As if handing over a Bank of Hell note to an official (and thereby implying their death or misfortune) wasn't enough, anybody brave or foolhardy enough to try paying a "service fee" with one of these babies would be asking for a good kicking for alleging that there'd been a bribe expected in the first place. The $0 note is a satirical device which, nevertheless, in today's China, could lead to unpleasant consequences. This blog denies any responsibility. In fact, it's been out at the shops all morning.

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