[T]he idea was first conceived by an Indian physics professor at the University of Maryland, who, in his travels around India, realized how widespread bribery was and wanted to do something about it. He came up with the idea of printing zero-denomination notes and handing them out to officials whenever he was asked for kickbacks as a way to show his resistance. Anand took this idea further: to print them en masse, widely publicize them, and give them out to the Indian people. He thought these notes would be a way to get people to show their disapproval of public service delivery dependent on bribes.
It’s somewhat difficult for me to appreciate how corruption of this type this can go on; it seems like there has got to be a critical mass of bribery for it to become socially “accepted,” and it’s just not in place in this form in the US (our corruption takes place at higher levels of government). And we have a population that isn’t generally shy about protesting or otherwise calling attention to injustices of this caliber — that’s our mindset. But I wonder how much more difficult it is for true democracy to take hold where such corruption is widespread, and the people don’t have this will to speak out.