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Zero Rupee Note (wikipedia.org)
771 points by aaronharnly on June 3, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 235 comments

That reminds me of when my university kept sending me a $0 bill every month after I graduated. They kept sending them, so eventually I wrote a $0 check and sent it back in the business-reply envelope. I guess they were happy I had paid my bill because they finally stopped sending them.

I once read a similar apocryphal narrative. Someone, kept receiving 0$ credit card bills and the company sent repeated reminders with warnings. The person called, sent letters to discuss the situation but to no avail. The person finally gave up and wrote a 0$ check and they stopped sending letters. However, it led to a computer systems crash as the credit card company software encountered a "Divide by Zero" error due to eh 0$ check.

I'm having a hard me thinking of a case where you'd want to divide by an amount of money. What am I missing?

For example to calculate the expected time left to pay the remaining debt if you make a monthly payment of that amount.

So dividing by number of months, which is not dividing by an amount of money.

var balance = 0

var lastPayment = 0

var remainingPaymentsAtThisRate = balance/lastPayment

// divide by zero error

Surely that doesn't account for interest?

My goal with this 3-line pseudocode snippet was not to reproduce a banking loan administration system in its entirety, but just to show a place where it could make sense to divide by currency.

Or to produce a report on percent of debt that has been repaid.

>”However, it led to a computer systems crash.”

Reminds me of Bobby Tables

For those out of the loop : https://xkcd.com/327/

And the real life use http://i.imgur.com/RmfbEsZ.jpg

Probably the computer that crashed was in charge of sending out letters.

I receive $0 bills from some sources, and while they don't keep sending them, my bank's website (CapitalOne) does keep reminding me about it as an unpaid bill.

And it won't let me pay $0. I have to mark it as "I paid it myself, outside of your system". That makes it shut up.

Or you might be remembering this story from an email your mom forwarded to your MSN account in the mid '90s?


There's a golden age sci-fi short for everything:


(Computers Don't Argue, Gordon Dickson, 1965)

However I often had bills and reminders of amounts that hover around postage price. The latest one was a 6.22 euros hospital bill.

I had a similar experience. I wanted to cancel my old credit card but couldn't find a way to do it online. As there were no fees I just ignored it. Well, it turned out that my VPN still had it as the payment method and so I got a bill to please pay my negative balance (they require at least 10% to be paid off after a month).

Of course, I paid. But it turns out that I need to contact them to unlock the card after I had a negative balance. I kept postponing it and kept getting 0€ bills every month. After 3 months they told me they are sorry to see me go but they'd have to cancel my account because of a balance of -0€.

It was kinda funny but worked out well :D

I've tried to cancel a credit card and told I needed to withdraw all money first (I had +£5). I withdrew it, and asked them to cancel it again. They started processing, but by the time they had got anywhere, I'd acquired interest (1p) and they refused to cancel the card.

I had the same thing, after leaving the country - I had to fly home to take 1p out from the bank in person. "Don't spend it all at once!", the bank teller told me :P

Not sure if this would actually occur but would it be a negative mark against your credit score if they had to close your account due to non-payment of a -0€?

Credit scores are an American construct :)

The Germans have their own version - Schufa [0]. :-( Most of other countries also have versions too.

[0] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schufa

While we have Schufa, you should not (and I did not) get an entry for 0€ debt. Schufa is far simpler than the US credit score.

Worked with a guy that was fed up with the phone company, so he kept like a $0.11 balance due in his account, knowing that sending him the letters asking for him to pay the bill would cost the phone company more than the total was worth.

I kept a bank account open with £1 for a decade or so as a similar passive aggressive protest

In the US, keeping a balance that low will result in a bnak service fee that will, after a period of time, result in a negative balance (which then leads to other fees which further lower your balance).

AWS once sent me reminders to clear pending dues and pay the bills else service will be terminated. The bill was of $0.01.

yep. Me too. In my case, my bank was unable to process that amount of payment so they eventually had to strike it off my bill.

I kept not paying my debts and just accumulating more and more. One day my debts got so large that it caused an overflow. I now have a couple billion to spare. I'll be forever in debt with whoever did my bank's decimal type implementation.

Did they ever deposit the check?

Would a bank even accept it? Genuinely curious if it's even possible to register a null transaction like that.

Zero is not null!

Arguably it could be nullified if the payment isn't legal due to being for zero value. Under UCC §3-104, a check is only a negotiable instrument if it's an unconditional order.

UCC §3-103 defines an order as "a written instruction to pay money signed by the person giving the instruction."

So, to answer the original question - I don't think a zero-amount check is legally a check because it's not a written instruction to pay any money.


Hm. Is $0 not an amount of money?

Writing a check for $0 is not an instruction to pay. Paying $0 is equivalent to not paying.

> Writing a check for $0 is not an instruction to pay.

By describing it as a check you've already acknowledged it as an instruction to pay.

> Paying $0 is equivalent to not paying.

It's equivalent in terms of the final balance, but it's not the same thing in other respects. If I sent you a check for $0, you would wonder how I got your address. There are a variety of ways that it would be different from me not sending you a check for any amount of money at all.

is "0" ~= NaN ~= []


It is in Germany.

Sounds like misspelling "139" as "-1E9" could be profitable...

I wonder how similar bribery culture is to tip culture. In the US where we tip restaurant workers, restaurant wages are often much lower than comparable positions in industries that don't have tipping, so much so that the difference is often explicitly included in minimum wage laws. Do countries with more bribery experience a similar effect, where the wages of police officers and other bribery-prone worker are much lower than they would otherwise be?

If so, that creates a pretty tricky equilibrium problem. Even if I think bribery is ethically wrong, I don't want to be in a position where I'm asking someone else to accept less than their "fair"/expected/equilibrium wage. Higher wages might be a prerequisite for getting rid of a culture of bribery, but at the same time, raising wages per se probably doesn't do much to reduce bribery in the short term?

Yes. Policemen are getting pretty low wages. But there are always a lot of people who want to work there, because they can get bribes. And they actually paying percentage of those bribes to their higher-ups and so on, so it's like a pyramid. And a lot of people want things to stay that way. Policemen are getting good income. Their masters are getting huge income. Ordinary people can pay much less to policeman, than they would pay in fines. It's that terrible win-win to everyone situation and that makes it very hard to destroy.

> It's that terrible win-win to everyone situation and that makes it very hard to destroy.

It does make it sound like there's a bribery-free equilibrium really close by though. Like imagine all of these things happened as part of a single reform:

- Policeman and management salaries go up.

- Fines go down.

- Taxes go up.

- Anti-bribery enforcement goes way up.

The idea would be to acknowledge that regardless of the bribery culture, the typical policeman might be doing a decent job and doesn't necessarily deserve an effective pay cut. The amount of money they're getting today is in some sense their "market rate", and the goal is to improve the efficiency and transparency of the system in other ways without shifting that market rate. Likewise the goal would be that the tax increases for citizens would be designed to match what they're paying in bribes and fines today, so they wouldn't actually end up paying more.

I assume the hard part is that each of these things by itself might make the problem worse, and it's only if they all change at the same time that you get a coherent result that's "good for everyone". And there are probably a ton of other factors to add to the list. (Like tax enforcement. Is it even possible to raise taxes to accommodate salary increases and fee decreases? If the tax code needs to be reformed before people will accept stricter enforcement of it, what are those reforms, and who would fight them?)

People don't respect police, so when government would want to massively increase their salaries, people would protest against it. Fines go down is a good thing for sure, but it'll reduce amount of money going to local budgets, so people in government will protest against it (because they'll need to find money to replace those from reduced fines). Taxes go up: nobody likes it. Anti-bribery goes way up: when everyone's corrupt, nobody wants it.

It might work when someone like president or minister really wants to do that and have support. But it's more like mini-revolution. It's hard to go there evolutionary. But may be I'm wrong.

Hah I really love discussions like that, everyone is right to some certain point.

If there would be one size fits all solution, we’d had one of those.

Generally the quintessence is the big role of money. But you just can’t create money out of nothing. Money comes from actions, money causes actions. If the Cashflow is redirected, something else will suffer from it.

> Fines go down is a good thing for sure, but it'll reduce amount of money going to local budgets

If it increases compliance then the effective revenue might actually go up.

>People don't respect police

Apply Peelian principles? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peelian_Principles)

(I've no idea how.)

> It's hard to go there evolutionary.

Yeah that seems like exactly the problem.

> - Policeman and management salaries go up.

That won't yield much because the gap between even a 100% increase in salary and the amount of bribes they collect is vast.

E.g. salary of an inspector could be, say INR 40k-50k per month but the bribes being collected typically would be millions of INR. Suppose an inspector has 15 people reporting to him who are collecting INR 200 from 300 people per day and the inspectors share in this is just 5%. Then the amount per month is 200 * 300 * 30 * 15 * .05 = INR 1350000. If I assume the salary to be 50k per month, this bribe amount is 27 times that. It is just not possible for the government to get the salary even in the same vicinity (just for kicks, Indian President's salary is about INR 500000 per month).

"The Big Bribe Industry" is a very organized sector and unofficially official. It is absolutely naive to believe that it can be destroyed. It is almost impossible to get a job done in a timely manner without bribing the official.

The rates are fixed. The collection mechanisms are solid. Everyone, from the peon to the minister, gets a cut.

Make it legal, then. Regulate it, call it a fee and problem solved.

No. The moment bribe is legalized, it stops being a bribe. That is, the officials get a kick out of this whole shady operation. If we deny them this pleasure, they will find other ways.

As it stands today, there is no accountability in the whole system. An official can sit on a file for years with no repercussions. You can drag them to court, but sooner than later you will understand that this is a battle you can never win. The official has the power and money of the government behind him while you are totally alone. Most importantly, the official has time while you do not.

That is basically what they did in Georgia, and it seems to have been very effective: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikheil_Saakashvili#Economic_a...

That's a very accurate description of how it is where I live. But at the end you call it a terrible win-win for everyone. If it's a win-win for everyone how can it also be terrible?

I think that it's like local maximum. There's higher maximum when everyone obeys the law and everyone's getting good salary. But it's hard to move there, because nobody wants to do it now. Also it creates bad incentive for police to arrest innocent people and to blackmail money from them for things they did not do, and it does not punish enough those who need punishment, so they do not learn their lessons and continue to break laws.

Because people are getting away with ignoring the law, and in turn that makes bad laws more transparent, which in turn give people even more incentives to bribe their way out of situations.

Bribes are also tax-exempt.

> Bribes are also tax-exempt

It's not a terrible idea.

I heard that post-war Germany had a massive corruption problem so they made bribing legal (but not bribe taking) and bribes tax-exempt. So everyone declared their bribes on their tax returns, the bribees were discouraged (or prosecuted) and the problem was solved. But this only works if you pursue the bribe takers.


"See Implementing the 1996 OECD Recommendation on the Tax Deductibility of Bribes to Foreign Public Officials, OECD (May 26, 1997) (Report by the Committee on Fiscal Affairs ("CFA") to the OECD Council at Ministerial Level) [hereinafter Implementation of Tax Deductibility Recommendation] (describing current member state practices regarding the tax treatment of overseas bribes). Attitudes of OECD Member countries concerning the deductibility of bribes to foreign officials vary greatly. See id. at 7. The laws vary accordingly but in most countries, bribes across borders are deductible as business expenses. See id. at 7-8; M. Javade Chaudri, OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (Conference on Corruption, American University, Washington College of Law. April 6. 1998). in 2 COMBATING CORRUPTION-RECENT MULTILATERAL INITIATIVES 252 (1998) [hereinafter 2 COMBATING CORRUPTION I (on file with author) (summarizing and analyzing the OECD Convention, listing the signatories to its provisions, and noting that foreign bribery and related tax-deductibility is an accepted German business practice). The OECD Member countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium. Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland. France. Germany. Greece. Hungary. Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands. New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Spain. Sweden. Switzerland. Turkey. United Kingdom, United States. See id. at 261."

http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?a... (PDF)

In the USA the bribe revenue would not be tax-exempt. Failing to pay tax on it would be another infraction.

Well, they're practically tax exempt, then. It's not like you're adding a bribes line on your tax report.

And? INAL but I believe taking bribes is worse legally than not paying taxes so if you are willing to do the former, then why does the latter really matter? If you are going to take bribes, you are obviously not going to report it for fear of that second infraction because the first one would be worse and thus you wouldn't take the bribe in the first place if the latter infraction scared you.

It's kind of an "on paper" crime, a la Al Capone. You'll get caught quicker if you have a manual audit after paying bribes. The IRS keeps your returns private, for the most part, and if you don't pay you could have 10 years tacked on.

It makes some laws impossible to enforce. Why even make enviromental regulations when everyone will just bribe their way out of them?

I tend to think the corrupt way is often more fair than nothing. But less fair than a less corrupt system. Notable legal corruption is totally a thing. Just because you're not expected to bribe an police officer doesn't mean the system isn't exploitative.

A weird thought crosses my mind...

"Justice delayed is justice denied"

Does an immediate "fine" on the spot deter criminal behavior?

Not if collecting the fine is itself criminal behaviour.

Yes, that's a good point.

Raising the police wages in Tunisia (three folds) increased bribery. By increasing their wages, it means they have more power over the actual government. It means they rule the streets and can be more aggressive asking for bribes.

Short answer: No. More wages does not mean less bribery. A strong government that has control over its police force is what reduces bribery.

Raising might not be enough, but it might still be necessary. If you're paying terrible wages and cracking down on bribes, it'll be very hard to recruit.

You've touched on one of the ways I think a country can end up with an ingrained police bribery problem.

The government knows they need a larger police force but that would cost more than the government can afford. How can you have the police force you require without breaking the bank? Easy, just pay the police poorly but let it be known that you will look the other way when they top up their income.

Once this reliance on police corruption is established it is hard to shift. Often the government doesn't have the financial means to unilaterally raise police salaries to a level that removes the need for bribes. And if salaries stay low anti-corruption drives are likely to fail as current police officers need bribes to survive. A genuine reduction in bribery can also cause police officers to quit and make it difficult to recruit new ones.

I've no way of validating this but I've read that tipping in the US was originally a way for patrons to make sure that the server got paid. During the great depression people were often so desperate for work they would be willing to work for free in the hopes that employers would hire them. (This is still a thing in Journalism). Employers would exploit that. Patrons fought back by tipping workers directly.

In the US bribery was fought by unionizing police officers and paying them more. I think low pay is behind bribery in a lot of countries.

Amusing story from an old gay dude I met at a party. In the sixties he rented an apartment on the fifth floor of a building in New York. About a month after he moved in the fire house held a 'charity drive' and the firemen essentially mugged him to put $20 in the bucket. Couple month later he locked himself out of his apartment and the firemen used a hook and ladder truck to get into his apartment and unlock the door.

Tipping originated a long time ago, but grew popular in the USA as a way to avoid paying newly freed slaves the same as non African Americans for work.



That might be true, but those articles are using a restaurant employees advocacy group as their only source. And beyond that one person's conjecture, there isn't much evidence that it's actually true.

I agree. If tipping really came to prominence during that time period, I wouldn't at all be surprised if it had a racist history. But given that no one at the time hid their racism, I'm surprised that neither article could manage to make a clear connection.

I found a Time article agreeing, but upon further investigation it cites the exact same advocacy group as their source as well. I'll agree with plausible but dubious.

I'm pretty opposed to tipping as a practice, or at least the reduced minimum wage for tipped positions, but I was expecting more from those articles. If you strip away the appeals to identity politics they are much less interesting or compelling. The WP article basically goes away save for a handful of cherrypicked sources. The Time article retains some vague handwaving about how many restaurant workers were former slaves around the time tipping caught on--how do they fail to draw a clear connection to racism in a time when overt racism was a point of pride?


^ It's actually the separate, minimum pay wage that emerged from that period - and that subsequently made tipping more customary. Tipping had been around for a while already.

"Indian citizens pay approximately £3 billion (about $4.9 billion) in bribes each year." So with a million government/bribe-able officials in the country, that's $4900 a person, easily a doubling of salary.

There are FAR more than a million bribeable government workers in India. According to the ILO there were 55 million public sector employees in 2014. [1]

It isn't clear what percentage of them work in jobs that involve interaction with the public / businesses (and are therefore bribeable), but I would guess 50%, not 2%.

There are quite a few other factors to this calculation, though.

Quite often, bribe receivers pay a portion to their managers (who aren't directly bribeable but make hiring and promotion decisions). This happens in property registration offices for instance.

Also, not everyone bribeable actually takes bribes. There's a significant number that don't. For instance many postal workers and doctors don't take bribes.

Finally, bribes are very unequally distributed. A minister might get paid $100m, and bribes would basically form 100% of their income.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_public_...

Tangential anecdata:- I know H1B workers who paid a "monthly % of their salary" to their Indian managers for bringing/sending them to the US on an H1B visa.

Yes and the system isnt all bad. For example, in the country I reside in, getting caught on drug charges would require paying a large sum to get off, which is kind of cool, because a primary job of police is to enforce drug laws, but who should pay for that, really? Should all the people who dont do drugs have to pay, like we do it in America? This way, the salaries of the police aren't paid by the whole populace but rather by the people guilty of the crimes enforced. In a sense, drugs aren't illegal here, they are just very very expensive, and that's possibly just as good of a deterrent.

But, the system is mostly bad. Corruption really holds back poor countries. Lobbying really holds back rich ones.

Well, your system is very different from just having expensive drugs in one key respect - being poor results in imprisonment, not a lack of access to drugs.

Tip workers always make full minimum wage if their tips aren't sufficient. It is really just a matter of setting a fair untipped minimum.

This is legally true, but when I waited tables if I ever claimed that my tips didn't get my salary up to minimum wage, I knew I'd be fired. This condition was just shy of explicit. It was the same if someone ran out on their meal. Fortunately most of the time all of my customers paid their meal and tips pushed me over minimum wage, but I remember one slow night that had a diner and dash. I think I paid to work that night.

Life at the lower rungs of the economic ladder is a total blast.

Something interesting is that tipping wasn't seen as too different from bribing in 1920's America [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gratuity#History

> In the US where we tip restaurant workers, restaurant wages are often much lower than comparable positions in industries that don't have tipping, so much so that the difference is often explicitly included in minimum wage laws.

This is putting the cart before the horse.

Tipping a waiter Is nothing like being shaken down by the cops

It's not really that tricky. Singapore is one country who has got this beautifully right.

Petty corruption of the "50 rupee backhander to the traffic cops" variety is indeed unknown in Singapore. However, it's unlikely the upper echelons of power are cleaner than anywhere else, and in fact probably less so because of the concentration of power and wealth in the Lee family.


Bribery and Tip culture are both about public servants being underpaid by the public sector (or by the restaurant sector), and thus it is rationalizing the need for a private economy on top, eg prioritizing certain people and so on.

Bribery though subverts law and order. Tipping might subvert service, but typically tipping is fine after service is rendered as opposed to before as in bribery.

Could negative currency be useful? For instance a fungible, negotiable debt instrument, registered on a blockchain so it can't be unilaterally destroyed. Put contractual language on it to the effect that "Registering acceptance of this note obligates you to pay $X to the U.S. treasury by date Y."

Bob buys an apple from Alice but doesn't have the cash, so instead accepts/registers a -$1 note from Alice, who now has less of a tax obligation to the treasury. A portion of the negative purchase price is for insurance and interest, so the positive price of the apple is a lower absolute value.

It could be a low friction mechanism for small loan transactions.

That is what money represents/has represented historically: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credit_theory_of_money

It's called an invoice. I'm not sure why the blockchain would need to be involved.

How would this be better than credit cards?

Did you miss the word “blockchain”?

What's to stop someone throwing negative value currency in the trash and thereby gaining money?

In OP's proposal it's all blockchain (jazz hands) so there's no disposing of it.

This might work if there is some reputation attached to the borrower's crypto address. So if they don't pay back, no one will lend them money again.

Like a loan?

Zero-currency notes have been generated for most of the world: http://zerocurrency.org/

That's interesting, but half-done (as opposed to the zero-rupee note). The "zero" notes still have the numbers in writing for many countries, with only the largest-font number replaced with 0: close enough to the originals, even one-sided, to be considered a forgery. People have been indicted for worse imitations...

The Pakistani ten rupee note's parody, while current, is half done. It reads ۱۰ which is 10 in Urdu, and literally says "ten rupees" in Urdu on the top.

I'm assuming it was done by an English speaking individual that didn't know how to do it right. I'd love to contribute.

Most of the Spanish language notes are similar, with Colombia for example saying "veinte" (20) all over it

> and literally says "ten rupees" in Urdu on the top.

Are you saying that they literally spell the word ten in Urdu script rather than dus (Urdu for 10)?

Oh no, it says "dus rupay". It doesn't transliterate it. That would be weird :)

The Egyptian note has the number zero, but the writing still says Fifty Pounds.

5 in Arabic looks like a western 0

0 in Arabic is a dot.

Same with Saudi (it says five riyals). Bahrain has the numeral and words for one!

Interesting. Another project with similar goals I came across recently is https://www.stampstampede.org/faq/ which was started by Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's fame. They use a stamp (like the Where's George project) and keep legal notes in circulation.

The Canadian note is many generations out of date.

I miss that series, possibly our most regal looking set.

Interesting choice of adjective, haha

Out of circulation, too?

I would think so.

I saw the US one has Andrew Jackson. Pretty fitting, but I can't tell if it was chosen because of his questionable legacy or just because the 20 dollar bill is common.

The website hasn't been updated for at least 2 years though.

(Under America, it still lists Barack Obama as the President.

That doesn't seem like a problem unless you're trying to rely on their population figures or something

It's a pretty great example of the wisdom of "doing one thing well." This site should just have a Wikipedia link to each country.

Or scrape/API, at most.

It still has the pre-1979 revolution bank notes for Iran. Not only has it not been in circulation or considered legal tender for decades, but also because of the inflation, the value of the note depicted is laughably low—like less than half a cent.

0 Billion Dollar Bills would be useful in the Trump era.

Poor Jackson got the honor of being featured on the US zero note. I kind of want to put Trump's face there.

Jackson's face is fitting -- He fought against corruption, and he particularly hated central banking and other banker interests.

And he defied a ruling by the Supreme Court to initiate the Trail of Tears, killing ~16000 Native Americans during their forced relocation. The new valuation suits him well indeed.

And that was horribly wrong, but I'm not sure it fully discounts the current context about monetary corruption.

I don't think people actually use the note though. I don't see anyone having guts to give that note to policemen or government officials in India.

Everyone in India just like the US is scared of the Police and know not to mess with them.

It is easy to see how this would be used in India. I have seen multiple instances of a police officer directing traffic walk up to a motorcycle stopped for cross traffic, reach out and turn off the motorcycle and take the key. When the driver hands over the money the officer hands back the keys. Quick transaction, likely too quick to realize the note was a 0 rupee note. Once saw this happen so close that the officer smiled at me as he took the money right outside my car window.

People in US are scared of the police? I am from India and have been in US for a while now and have never been scared of the cops (unlike my time in India).

Indian cops may take take bribes, but they're unlikely to shoot you at a traffic stop. (Unless you "encounter" them in the wrong place, that is.)


What is while? I lived in the US for a decade and please say Sir to the cop when he stops you and don't mess with them. Even a small incident can send you to the hospital

Yes, although the concept is good I am pretty sure after handing this note the official would demand for more.

Nowadays I have seen threatening with audio/video footage using a smartphone work pretty well.

Wow, thats pretty cool, I had no idea. I am a bit shocked that it works though.

> I am a bit shocked that it works though

It's a shaming mechanism.

If an official is committed to collecting a bribe, it will be useless. But some corrupt officials might be responsive to a verbal dressing down. Handing over a zero-rupee note is less intimidating than delivering a lecture.

I think it’s also a strong statement of your position when it comes to bribes.

A shakedown for a bribe is a negotiation. If a person is told “pay this $100 fee right now or I’ll have to take you in” and says “no”, the cop may lower the price, raise the price, threaten more, or follow through on the threat to try to get the person to pay up. But if you have a piece of paper that says “I am so against bribery that I carry around pieces of paper that say so” it makes the cop lose hope of getting the bribe. At that point, why bother with the work of arresting them?

>why bother with the work of arresting them?

Sport, ego, anger, setting precedent, higher payout after arresting etc. Any number of reasons. It's all fun and games to give 0 rupee notes, until you are locked up. And then your bribe to get out has gone up manifold, unless you are willing to fight it out in a court (which you aren't).

I'd get rum, cushions and a book delivered under the guise of someone claiming to be fetching money.

edit - and a bundle of zero rupee notes to distribute round the jail, along with half the rum and a promise to send more rum, the quicker I get out.

Arrested by a corrupt cop? Just send out for some rum and a book. One has to wonder why more people don't do this. Instead they spend their time worrying that maybe something unpleasant will happen.

This is why I have just shared the rum with people with extravagant facial tattoos.

Good point. I really was drawing out the best use case for this note. It could certainly go wrong.

>> A shakedown for a bribe is a negotiation.

It's only a negotiation if the official has any chance of being prosecuted for that bribe.

>> But if you have a piece of paper that says “I am so against bribery that I carry around pieces of paper that say so” it makes the cop lose hope of getting the bribe.

Or well, the cop simply arrests you and puts you in jail for a week during which you can't go to work to afford food for your children.

>> If a person is told “pay this $100 fee right now or I’ll have to take you in” and says “no”, the cop may lower the price, raise the price, threaten more, or follow through on the threat to try to get the person to pay up.

There was a thing in Russia about a decade ago for people driving cars with European plates: a cop stops you and says you're drunk. You argue with him, so he takes you to a doctor. Doctor says you're drunk.

So the bribes went as $10 for the first time and then $100 at the doctor's. If you were smart you knew you could loose the license in Russia and then simply report it stolen in Europe because nobody shared databases.

>> It's only a negotiation if the official has any chance of being prosecuted for that bribe.

I’m not saying it’s fair, but it is a negotiation. There are offers and counteroffers that are accepted and denied.

The beauty I see in it is that the corrupt official is offered the option to then pass this note on to someone else, whether that be whoever he needs to bribe or just a friend or family member affected by corruption. Giving someone else an alternative rather than just refusing to cooperate can catch them off guard and be quite disarming.

There is no beauty in it, you need to understand power play and how it manifests in real life. The official is taking bribe, because you have a need for some thing to be done and he wields power over you. If you do such nonsense, your work simply won't be done, and the official will simply create additional hurdles.

I understand power play. Are you saying the Zero Rupee Note doesn't achieve anything?

Yes, the Zero Rupee Note does not achieve anything at all. For e.g. if a traffic cop stops you, the first thing he does is that he takes your driver license. Good luck getting it back with your fancy Zero Rupee note.

You're daring them to bust you for it.

I would guess it only works if there is a minimal power imbalance, and the person being bribed is in a good mood. I doubt this will get your heat turned on in the winter for example.

I imagine you pass it crumpled or rolled up.

I don't see how this is anything but a feel good idea. No one would even think of implementing it. Get pulled over by a corrupt cop and give him this note, he will make sure you pay him the bribe and then screw you over. Nothing but an intellectual exercise in optimism and hope.

I've never seen this note in India and didn't know that something like this existed.

It's not official currency.

The type of corruption that destroys societies, does not happen with notes changing hands.

Reminds me of this quote from Billy Madison:

"At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

Wonder if it feels as good to give zero rupees as it does to give zero points, or zero fucks.

Some weird and masochistic part of me wants to hand my passport to a US border guard with one of these tucked into it. Seems harmless but a dumb way to waste an afternoon

And all the other afternoons that you spend in the future when you cross that border inbound.

How much do I have to pay to get a Zero Rupee note?

If you have the right paper you can download and print your own notes from https://5thpillar.org/programs/zero-rupee-note/

I believe note will be historically important. I wanted an example for my currency collection. Although Fifth Pillar printed more than a million of these notes and has been distributing them for six years they have been scarcer than hen's teeth on the collectors' market.

I had no luck contacting 5th Pillar. I tried repeatedly from 2009 to 2013 without success. In 2014 I was able to obtain samples from Joel's Coins website. They were selling for $2/note (but cheaper in quantity), far more than the face value of the 50 rupee note they imitate. Because I could find no examples with a provenance to 5th Pillar I am not 100% certain the examples sold to collectors in 2014 were produced by 5th Pillar.

How come most of the western countries have only little corruption? How come they did not catch the fever of corruption when previous generations practiced such crimes as slavery and colonialism? Does Judie-Christianity look down on corruption because it destroys ones own society while it is okay with slavery and colonialism because it destroys other societies?

The correlation between Judeo-Christianity and lack of corruption is negligible. There are plenty of Christian countries with endemic corruption, and several non-Christian countries without (Japan comes to mind).

The correlation between countries which do not pay their civil servants a living/middle-class wage and corruption is a much better direction for your suppositions.

Yes, I think that is a better way to understand it. Thank you.

> Only one side of the note is printed to resemble currency so as not to run afoul of counterfeiting laws.

Doesn't it? To know for sure we need to take it to the court.

Why? Many countries have quite clear rules what makes acceptable non-real money, so this often can be relatively easily answered.

This usually hinges on intent. The most common money-exchange scam is exactly this: the mark receives a stack of one-sided copies instead of actual currency, and the perp runs away before the mark notices. People have gone to prison for this.

Someone has gone to prison for trying to pass off one-sided copies of actual currency? Seems pretty unlikely to me. Would be interested in reading about an actual case of this happening.

> Seems pretty unlikely

Why? The example from Piskvorrr is textbook violation of 18 U.S.C. 473: (paraphrasing here) Handing out fake money with the intent that it believed to be real is a crime.


Late reply here, but I was referring to the one-sided aspect. Just seems unlikely to me that someone would realistically intend for a one-sided copy of currency to be believed as real. Just seems like the threshold for printing both sides is so low that anyone who only printed one side must not really be intending for it to be taken as real, at least not for very long.

"Not for very long" - that's exactly the point of the currency-exchange scam:

- mark gets an offer of a great exchange rate from the con-man

- mark hands over real money

- gets a stack of something - the first few bills on the top and bottom are actual local currency, but most of it are one-sided counterfeits.

- con-man counts the money in a way that doesn't give this away - this obviously requires sleight of hand and insufficient lighting

- con-man disappears in crowd

- mark eventually realizes that most of the stack is worthless

The whole con takes a minute or two at most: that's not very long at all.

The critical section "mark no longer has original currency but hasn't yet realized he has been swindled" is as short as a few seconds; this has even been done with plain paper in some particularly audacious cases.

Well, we Indians did invent zero!

Trier made €0 notes with Karl Marx images on them to celebrate his 200th birthday... Which they sold for €3 each.


It's the zero-euro commemorative banknotes. Purely collectible items. I have a couple from France and Italy, and they were €1 each.


We got several, too. What I like about them is the really good quality, including watermark and other anti-counterfeiting features. It's a nice souvenir, relatively cheap and doesn't take up much space in your luggage.

For some reason, this joke/meme came to my mind immediately when I read the Wikipedia page:

Me: I'd like a Coke please. Waiter/Waitress: Is Pepsi OK? Me: Is Monopoly money OK?

Zero bucks given.

> One autorick-shaw 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.

Too good to be true.

On another note, what people usually do (when they are asked a bribe) is to notify the vigilance officer. The vigilance department provides marked original currency notes powdered with Phenolphthalein. Once the official accepts the bribe, the vigilance enters the office and arrests the official who took the bribe red handed (literally). But there are ways to circumvent this by depositing the bribe indirectly to the guy(proxy) who sells tea outside the govt. office from whom the govt official later collects it from.

It is too good to be true, police would have smashed him just out of ego

Only if you want to see the worst in people.

The bribe accepting police is also, in many cases, not doing this out of malice. Police financing in India is pretty fucked up, and I find it surprising how we have a functioning society with such underfinanced and overworked police, even in the well to do urban areas.

Anyways if you are the police in that situation, it makes much more sense to let the "activist" sort of guy, who has gone to the trouble of procuring such notes, go away and just wait for the next sucker to show up. Creating a scene which will definitely get you attention, and fired/suspended is a more stupider course of action.

> I find it surprising how we have a functioning society with such underfinanced and overworked police, even in the well to do urban areas.

At the risk of being downvoted, I feel compelled to offer a foreigner's perspective here. As a foreigner who has lived in Bangalore, Mysore, Hyderabad, and Mumbai for 2 to 6 months many times, I have to agree with the other commenter that I did not find a functioning society. Things I saw during my visits:

- Cops refusing to file a report after a theft.

- No medical or police help during accidents. It's up to the untrained passers-by to administer some form of first aid and take an injured person to medical care facility.

- Motorcycle riders driving on sidewalks.

- Cars driving on the wrong side of the road.

- Drivers not yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks.

- Tuk-tuks refusing rides in gross violation of government regulations.

- Damage and pilferage of public property in Indian Railways.

- Eunuchs extorting money from unsuspecting people in broad daylight.

Some of these things are not exceptions but the rule. This does not consititute a functioning society per my expectations and standard of living. This is a total breakdown of law, order, civility, decency, and courtesy in society.

>>Some of these things are not exceptions but the rule.

You could be downvoted, the real reason is so many Indians don't even think this is anything wrong. Globalization has presented an opportunity for Indians like me to travel abroad and see how well the systems work outside. For a lot of Indians, something like this is invisible. Often the exposure is to infrastructure seen through Hollywood movies or these days, YouTube.

The 3 years or so I spent in Bay Area,CA literally floored my mind. Things as simple as getting a California State Identity card without bribes, to VTA drivers saying Good morning. Trains run on time, parks are kept clean. People pay taxes, police doesn't ask for bribes, people cleaning up after their dogs in parks. I have even seen emergency services arrive in like minutes in case of accidents in places like Sunnyvale.

Heck when I was there the Santa Clara County was doing some water harvesting project for millions. That's like a small residential area equivalent in Bangalore, the scale and audacity of ambition itself was shocking to me. The contrast being, a place like Koramangala in Bangalore, would probably debate to death to a get a leaf composter and instead burn the leaves and pollute the air around.

Clean parks and friendly transit staff!? San Francisco must have changed since I left. :-p

I think these can be extremely relative

Well, what you said is true. But the society in India functions, though in its own way...

I think it all comes down to population and resulting resource crunch, leaving folks trying to find all sorts of ways to use situations to their advantage. While one can argue that it comes as a part of culture as well, I would say the said culture develops because while we can act self-less and well-mannered for some time or even some generations, poverty and competition eventually gets to you and makes you behave it all sorts of ways.

Corruption only adds to the plight. That must be stopped.

I was intrigued by your Eunuch comment, did some more digging, very interesting.


I recently watched a Youtuber visiting India who witnessed these guys dressed as women and going from store to store, asking for money after clapping. It was puzzling. Anyway, this article explains what was going on.

Agree with you entirely.

When the British left India, there was officially a transfer of power to the congress party. The first prime minister was appointed by the party. The constitution, the police, the bureaucracy and the court system was inherited by the people.

Unlike the developed world or China or Vietnam, India did not go through a bloody revolution. What that meant is that systems that were explicitly meant to harass and exploit the people is what we have inherited.

India runs two parallel systems, the official system and the traditional system. In the past [up until recently] urbanites [directly or indirectly worked for the govt] who were also the elitists suffered the official system but also benefited from it. The rural masses [80+%] were out of the official system.

Today with greater urbanisation, more and more people not used to the official system and forced to deal with it in their own way. First generation urbanites out number the original city dwellers.

There is a need to have a small government, lower red tape, hopefully the new government which has an overwhelming majority can carry out the overhaul necessary to set things right.

In a way Trump and his trade war can be a good thing and push Indians to realise, that they can not continue being the "source of raw material, cheap labour and a huge captive market" - exactly how the colonist always wanted us to be.

Could you recommend some reading to dive deeper into this narrative?

It is very interesting, reminds me something I couldn't grasp now. Probably some theory about an inherent nature of Russia's failures or something like. But, you know, it is hard to think of such a matters when the main example is your own country, it is hard to keep objectivity. I'd be happy to read about India.

By the way, I believe, that a bloody revolution wouldn't help India to create a different society. Take a Russia as an example: there was revolution of 1917, which overthrown Tzar, but communists came and they built authoritarian state just like in old times. With a Stalin as a dictator instead of Tzar. Tzar was meant to have a God given rights to rule, Stalin had the same rights given him by a proletariat. Even the scale of a corruptions the same, and one of the theories explaining them goes as far as to X century to track the start of bribery as a way to pay wages to government representatives, then bribes were made illegal, but it lasts for a centuries without a much success. Tzar, communists, now "democrats" are all failed to change it.

In 1991 USSR had failed, and there were a failure of a society, but in a few years a new society emerged, then gathered strength and finally we have all the same, the only difference are flags and slogans. We see the return of a God, though for now no one claims yet that Putin is a God given ruler.

The kind state you could build in a society are constrained heavily by a culture of a society (not the painting and architecture, but the culture in almost biological meaning, something that goes from mother to a child, something that is almost as sticky as a genetics). At the same time the culture of a society have a great inertia, you couldn't change it in a few years of a bloody revolution and a civil war.

Why India Is Still A Colonial State | Sankrant Sanu | Srijan Talks


I am not prescribing a bloody revolution, a lot of ex-colonies have been through many such with no better outcome because colonization is deep seated.

You’ve diagnosed the problem well, but I don’t understand how that leads to “smaller government” being a solution. In many regards are relate to civic responsibility, India probably needs bigger government. They need it both to enforce the small laws (litter, traffic rules, safety regulations) as well as building the sustained infrastructure to make life more convenient (mass transit to deal with traffic, public housing so people aren’t in slums, sanitation services to clean up after everything, etc.) And then there is the need to create and maintain the public spaces to accommodate all these people, like parks and libraries.

I think both of you are right. We need a smaller existing type of government, and we need a bigger new type of government, which is more answerable to the people.

Consider, for example, the police force. They are not customer (inasmuch as you can call the voter/taxpayer a customer) oriented force; they are a subjugation force. They carry sticks around, which they wield with gay abandon. Many of the forms of power in the current system are meant to keep the people down and subservient.

To continue this example: what we need are fewer state-level (where "state" is the region in question) police, and more local (city-level or district-level) police. We need more power on quality-of-life issues devolved to the local bodies, and less with the state or the feds.

Local control is a double edged sword. It may make them more sensitive to local issues if they’re part of the community, but it can also lead to arbitrary enforcement or non-enforcement from one area to another or between one group or another.

The smaller the political unit, the more likely it is to be dominated by a clique of people. This can lead to corruption, but even in a non-corrupt setting it can lead to racist, casteist, or other kinds of discriminatory decisions about enforcement or resource allocation.

When I say small government - I only meant that the government should lower regulations and simplify laws. In the case of India, I am even in favour of the government stepping in to help fledgling industries, either because the local industry is so far behind or because foreign companies are deliberatly unwilling to be inclusive.

India does not have the ability to enforce - Lacks the resources to police and the diversity prevents uniformity.

Add to that draconian colonial/socialist era laws.

It is hard to enforce anything if you neither have the capacity nor need.

As an old civilisation India has an enormous capacity to self regulate. Compared to say the EU, India is way more diverse yet a single country and not by force.

A sane change would be to have bare-bone laws and swift justice on - property, business, greater personal freedom in education.

Complicated laws only favour the rich, powerful and definitely the corrupt. If the honest thrive, it would be increasingly expensive to be dishonest.

For the most part, a functioning government is non-existent in India. The primary activity of both the federal/central and state governments in India is theft (through bribes as well as taxes), and being a drag on the economy. It's not unlike a Mafia-run protection racket. If you don't pay bribes or taxes, you either get in trouble, or don't get basic services. A good chunk of the tax revenue is robbed by at various points due to corruption, and rarely does the majority of it actually get used for public services. The fact that the streets of most major Indian cities lay strewn with garbage, is just one testament to the brokenness of public services in India.

Beyond that, the degree to which the governments in India have stifled economic growth and the potential of the country is truly horrifying. Up until around 1990, the governments agenda was perpetual poverty as they made it impossible for people to start businesses, by imposing significant red tape, and requiring regulatory approval for every little thing (look up "License Raj").

>>Up until around 1990, the governments agenda was perpetual poverty as they made it impossible for people to start businesses, by imposing significant red tape, and requiring regulatory approval for almost every little thing. (look up "License Raj").

The more things change, the more they remain same. You can't exactly fix these things with laws. You need to have cultural change at some point in time.

I remember a colleague telling a story about a product company shuttering its offshore center in India. A lot of Indian colleagues stood up and spoke passionately about the benefits and advantages of doing business in India, including access to talent. Apparently the boss in US, he was a CTO just stoop up asked us a simple question:

What do you guys make in India?

It was a fairly simple question, it was a kind of brutal self appraisal, but apart from making soaps and clothing and ball point pens, you really struggle to answer the question. What IP do we build here? and what do we make that we sell, like products? Compare this with any top world economy today like US, China, Germany, UK etc. You begin to realize how far behind we are.

India is all about reselling things we don't make. In this kind of an economy, higher your population, more hands the goods change through. Each person gets a cut, you could linear interpolate this, have a 3 billion population and even exceed US economy. But it will change nothing in people's living standards, or quality, it won't give them quality education or health care, or anything for that matter. Basically numbers look beautiful, while nothing changes on the ground.

Lastly Indian love for bureaucracy and red tape is undying and eternal. This comes from aristocracy and government. People think being management jobs means doing 0 work and having access to slaves who serve them while making big money. Ivy League grads aspire to do MBA's from top colleges. Programmers want to be managers ASAP. Pretty much all my cousins have a distance education MBA. No appetite for engineering.

In short you can't change this with laws. People have to change.

> What do you guys make in India?

> It was a fairly simple question, it was a kind of brutal self appraisal, but apart from making soaps and clothing and ball point pens, you really struggle to answer the question. What IP do we build here? and what do we make that we sell, like products?

Just to add to what others had said:

1. Moser Bauer is (was?) the largest manufacturer of CDs in the world. Sure, few people use CDs anymore these days, but 20 years ago, MB was a giant.

2. Essel Propack is the leader by far of packaging material like the tubes your toothpaste comes in.

3. India had a pivotal role in stopping the AIDS epidemic in Africa. India offered a year's supply of anti-retroviral drugs (for AIDS patients) to Africans for $300/year; companies in the West were demanding 100x as much. Just imagine the number of lives saved thanks to this move alone.

4. Lifestyle ideas like yoga, meditation, vegetarianism are all heavily influenced by India.

5. India had been doing "organic farming" for millennia; Albert Howard learned organic farming techniques from Indian farmers, and spread them in the West. He's known as the "father of modern organic farming". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Howard

> India is all about reselling things we don't make

Boy, you are a downer! Things are not the best, but they're not all bad either. Here are some important things India makes:

1. Movies - it has the largest (by number of productions) film industry in the world, and third largest by revenue (admittedly the latter is expected and it's third by a fair distance)

2. Satellite launch services - Antrix corporation, run by the Indian government no less.[1] And it makes a profit, what a crazy world we live in!

3. Generic medicines - Largest manufacturer of these in the world[2].

4. Motorcycles - The 2 largest motorcycle manufacturers in the world are Indian companies. [3][4] Are their bikes household names in developed countries today? No, but neither were Honda or Toyota in 1960.

5. Steel and cement - Apparently the 2nd largest steel and cement producer in the world (I didn't know this)[5][6] but also admittedly a long way off first place.

I didn't have the time or patience to research more, but you get the idea.

> What IP do we build here?

Most countries don't produce that much valuable IP in this stage of their growth. That comes later, when the basics - manufacturing, laws, financial systems, transport - have been firmed up. Having said that I'm sure there's a non-zero amount of useful research from the IITs or IIS or ISRO or BARC.

> Compare this with any top world economy today like US, China, Germany, UK etc. You begin to realize how far behind we are.

That's why (apart from China) they're referred to as "developed" countries and India is not.

> Programmers want to be managers ASAP.

You may find that outside the technology industry, it's like that everywhere. Anecdote: a few years ago, I caught up with an old acquaintance (who was raised in the US) working at an American consulting company in the Midwest. When he found out I'm a software engineer in the Bay Area he said "Oh, you're just a programmer." and sounded disappointed.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antrix_Corporation

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharmaceutical_industry_in_Ind...

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bajaj_Auto

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero_MotoCorp

5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_steel_pro...

6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_cement_pr...

Correct. You just proved what the CTO said, We are experts at replicating X at scale, once some one originally produces X. We didn't invent the video camera, or modern studio tech, or internal combustion engine, even rocket tech, electricity, electronics, medicinal sciences, metallurgy or anything for that matter. Heck we didn't even invent the ball point pen.

We replicate and resell things, we kind of have to, because there are so many people in India and every wants X. Apply this to cement, movies, motorcycles, medicines, pens, pencils, call center employees, human robots, trench and ditch diggers, even baby diapers. We live in a country where the government rolls out schemes for daily labor occupation, to keep them busy by helping them dig with shovels. You can even boast of largest human shovel operators in the world. Heck we are experts are producing more human beings, than any country on earth. You might want to add that to our list of accolades, then take your right hand and pat yourself on your back.

Keep producing more humans like this, eventually we will be largest producers and consumers of everything, diabetes patients to pick pocketers and then we can claim what we always claim, we are the best of the best, put all criticism to rest, join hands and sing Mera Bharat Mahan.

None of this fixes anything because you end up creating more mouths and more hands to change. More deeper human chains to act as middle men. Numbers keep increasing of course, but situation doesn't change much on the ground.

This (more or less accurate) charge of being copycats who do little domestic innovation was true earlier of Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea, and before them of Japan. It was true for decades of China too. This is just what happens when you’re doing catch up growth. There are huge easy wins by doing in your country what other people in other countries already know how to do, but cheaper because labour is cheap in your country because you’re poor. Or in taking a poorly managed company and making it marginally better managed every year until you’re as productive as the leading firms in your industry were a decade or two decades ago. Innovation is great but not being poor does not require innovation, it requires doing things that are well within the technological frontier. Eventually some small industrial cluster approaches the global frontier and then is at it in some industry. It just takes time.

That's true, but then for that to happen you need a working government and society, you can't do that if inefficiencies abound. China, Japan and South Korea all had powerful governments who made hard choices, India's on the other hand is weak and ineffective.

It’s actually worse than weak and ineffective. If it was weak and ineffective then effective organisations would be able to make an end run around it, whether by corruption or by using politics to institute policy changes. India has a powerful government that’s captured by domestic constituencies that love the current sclerotic system. The Licence Raj lasted 50 years because powerful people wanted it. Moving from the current system to something better will require taking on some of these groups.

You need to put human resources development as the number one priority. As of now these are not even political issues in India. Nobody thinks these are important things to do.

India started off well during its Independence, the first education minister(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abul_Kalam_Azad) and the first prime minister(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jawaharlal_Nehru). The idea was to build a highly trained workforce and an industrial base, and then they bootstrap each other. But India has kind of lost its way.

This what is said of first education minister:

Jawaharlal Nehru referred to him as Mir-i- Karawan (the caravan leader), "a very brave and gallant gentleman, a finished product of the culture that, in these days, pertains to few".[16] Mahatma Gandhi remarked about Azad by counting him as "a person of the calibre of Plato, Aristotle and Pythagorus".[27]

India hasn't had good quality leadership in human resources for a while now.

The current priorities of HR development ministers in India go on the line of rewriting history to propel their political propaganda, pushing things like homeopathy, astrology. Hating universities and academia, calling them elites who need to be eliminated for their political ideas to be taken forward.

You don't do much in Human resources building with these kind of systems in place.

Education has remarkably little to do with economic growth. Richer countries are more educated but changes in education do not predict changes in productivity. Education appears to be a superior good that people just purchase more of when they’re richer.

Ghana is more educated now than France was in 1960 going by average years of education and it’s poorer. China’s years of explosive economic growth after Deng opened it up in the 1980s happened with a population that had on average finished primary school.

India’s plan to build a highly educated workforce and industrial base in tandem was a thorough and costly failure. Lots and lots of people tried to get a good education so they could go for civil service jobs. It did nothing industrially because running a successful industrial policy is a lot harder than either leaving businessmen to their own devices, taxes and regulation aside, to make their own business decisions, or running a captured, cronyistic industrial that wastes money and is swept aside as soon as the policy is abolished. Ireland, India, Pakistan, Argentina; there are many countries that wasted enormous sums on infant industry tariffs to no benefit.

Do you have a resource to recommend that suggests reasons and provides data for this seemingly paradoxical observation?

Bryan Caplan, The Case Against Education

From the Section “The Education Premium: Personal versus National”

> “When we move to the national level, these clean results vanish.65 Some prominent economists find that boosting national education slightly impoverishes countries rather than enriching them.66 Others report small positive effects; one typical estimate is that an extra year of national education boosts national income by 1.3%–1.7%.67 Remaining papers find moderate positive effects; the effect of national education on national income roughly equals the effect of personal education on personal income.68 No matter what they find, researchers usually confess their answers are highly uncertain.69”

> “65. For overviews, see Pritchett 2006, Bosworth and Collins 2003, and A. Krueger and Lindahl 2001. 66. See, e.g., Pritchett 2001, pp. 367–91, Islam 1995, and Benhabib and Spiegel 1994. 67. A. Krueger and Lindahl 2001, p. 1125, columns (2), (3), and (5). 68. For a survey, see Lange and Topel 2006, pp. 462–70. 69. One major exception: D. Cohen and Soto 2007 emphasizes the high quality of their data and the low uncertainty of their results. But even their findings dramatically hinge on their sample. When they look at 59 countries over 1960–90, a year of education raises national income by 4.9%. When they look at 81 countries over 1970–90, a year of education raises national income by 9.0% (D. Cohen and Soto 2007, p. 68, columns 5 and 10).”

> We replicate and resell things, we kind of have to,

You clearly missed what I said here.

> Most countries don't produce that much valuable IP in this stage of their growth.

Seriously read that again. Every developed country has started out copying, manufacturing, and then moved up the value chain to inventing. That's how countries develop - Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, and Singapore are some examples of this. And even then ISRO and BARC have had to re-create a ton of aerospace and nuclear research on their own, on account of being frozen out of the international research community for decades.

> Heck we are experts are producing more human beings, than any country on earth

Actually India's fertility rate is only a shade above the global average. So it's middle-of-the-pack on that measure, not a world-leader :-)

> Then we can claim what we always claim, we are the best of the best, put all criticism to rest, join hands and sing Mera Bharat Mahan.

Try to ease up on the negativity, anger, and extreme opinions a bit. Everything is not awesome but it's not all bad either.

All the best!

> We live in a country where the government rolls out schemes for daily labor occupation, to keep them busy by helping them dig with shovels

You mean like this? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_Conservation_Corps

> > Programmers want to be managers ASAP.

> You may find that outside the technology industry, it's like that everywhere.

Huh. Then my friends and I may be unusual. We all seem to prefer solving problems to managing people.

> Huh. Then my friends and I may be unusual. We all seem to prefer solving problems to managing people.

Clearly, you have never had the "opportunity" to manage people.

> The primary activity of both the federal/central and state governments in India is theft (through [...] taxes),

This is just nonsense. Taxation has nothing to do with theft.

> If you don't pay [...] taxes, you either get in trouble, or don't get basic services.

As you should. Not getting in trouble for tax evasion would be a sign of a dysfunctional government.

> A good chunk of the tax revenue is robbed by at various points due to corruption, and rarely does the majority of it actually get used for public services.

> So is this, of course. Up until around 1990, the governments agenda was perpetual poverty

People who are pointlessly evil, not just egoistic and corrupt, are rare. I don't think the Indian people managed to elect them into government for decades.

There is no law on the road in India. I've lived here 30 years and the situation hasn't improved one bit. In fact, it's become worse.

>>Police financing in India is pretty fucked up, and I find it surprising how we have a functioning society with such underfinanced and overworked police, even in the well to do urban areas.

Sorry sir, but this is plain wrong. Only two months back I was stopped by the police for 'fast driving', this is around a corner while I was turning at may be 10 kmph, in fact he just waved his hand in front of me. Irony be damned, it still qualified as 'fast driving' in his rule book- Which I translated as Why do you argue, just give me the money!

He asked for 200. I had no change, so he removed a bundle of notes to give me the change. From what I saw I estimated a good 2 lac worth cash in his pockets. There were three such men, so I guess their Sunday afternoon collection was close to 6 lacs. This is just in one corner, on one day, in an after noon. These people extort 100s of crores this way everyday.

There was a thread on Twitter a while back, where a women journalist reported she had CCTV camera footage where a constable was caught stealing her Honda Activa in the night, in uniform. Police several times in provides information to robbers in a area, if a family is out of the town, while the robbers steal they guard the home and protect while the robbers do their job. They also provide transport and logistics support in share for the theft.

Last decade when the Lokayukta of Karnataka was fairly active, they released a photograph of recovered jewelry from a raid from a inspectors home, a man came forward and reported that the jewelry in the photograph had ornaments stolen from his home a few years back. Beat that.

I hear your ordinary everyday circle inspector these days is worth a few hundred crores. They work hand-in-glove with liquor, land and drug mafia. This ain't even police, this is more like legalized mafia with unlimited powers and no accountability.

These people are not underfunded, these some of the most richest people in India currently. Their earnings are only behind politicians.

We have similar situation in Russia. For example, when one of high-ranking officers from anti-corrpution department was arrested, police found an equivalent of $123 000 000 in cash in his apartment [1]. He bought a separate apartment only to store the cash.

This amount of money can be compared to a budget of a city with population of 300 000 people.

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/senior-russi...

I think the problem is the most potent mechanism against corruption is the pension. No sane public servant, no matter how morally bankrupt, will take a small bribe that risks a large pension. Unfortunately, pensions are extremely expensive.

What are lacs and crores?

1 lac = 100,000; 1 crore = 10,000,000

> how we have a functioning society with such underfinanced and overworked police, even in the well to do urban areas.

The answer is that we don't.

If we did have better functioning police systems, you would see a lot more growth in a lot of Indian cities. The biggest cities escape the tyranny of local powers simply because people living in these cities accumulate vast financial resources to essentially circumvent Government services (e.g. you will see private guards everywhere, gangs running protection rackets that try to ensure that "Justice" is served etc.).

This lack of basic government services and infrastructure can be crippling, especially to businesses and people looking to make long term investments.

Interesting, India reads like a libertarian paradise. I'd expect it to be an economic powershi.

It's literally the opposite of that. Corrupt government is still the presence of a government/state.

Right, the Government gets in your way (Bribes, red tape for everything etc.) in every step instead of staying out of it, because they have every intention to extract maximal resources through corrupt means. While this may not have been the intention of the Government polity (indeed, the corrupt wealth isn't reflected in tax receipts, but a flourishing black market) it is what ends up happening.

But it's true because I have seen it in action and spoke to real people benefiting from it. I volunteered for 5th Pillar from 2007 to around 2014 or so. It mostly works because more often the police don't prefer to mess with anyone who might be associated with any group (political party or activist or religious or anything else). You would even see cars often hoisting a flag from a political party or some organization. Some people wear dress (dhoti) that are lined with their party's flag to indicate that they are affiliated with that political party. The police (especially the traffic cops on the roads) have enough problems and want to prey on only the weakest ones, hence better not to mess with someone who could potentially fight back, bring some media attention and worse, transfer them to a remote place.

In many countries the official currency for bribes is a recharge/top-off card for mobile phone calling credit. You forget it on the seat or the counter and oops.

I was wondering if there was a way to "tag" the serial numbers on a note used to pay a bribe, then track it's movement. But your proxy scheme shows it's been thought of.

Interestingly, the number zero was invented in India

You mean the 'idea of' zero 'in recorded history'was invented in India. =)

The ancient Egyptians had a conception of zero, and used a herioglypical symbol for zero. China had a counting rod system, with an empty space being a zero and Mathematical Treatise in Nine Sections had a round symbol being used for zero. Other authors were familiar with the concept of negative numbers.

These are alll before Indian "invention" (probably be discovery) of zero.

What the GP actually means is the "Arabic" numeral system was invented in India[1]. The "zero" is an essential part of this system.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu%E2%80%93Arabic_numeral_s...

It ain't that hard to understand.

Lets say you are a hunter gatherer, you hunted a pig in the forest. You and your fellow cave mates had a good meal. Another cave mate arrives an hour later. Asks how many pigs you hunted, your reply 1, asks how much is left, given you had everything, and nothing is left, what answer would you give?

Congratulations you just invented zero in 100000 BC.

What you are defining is zero as quantity. Thats not that difficult. What is brilliant is zero as a place holder which practically made counting to big numbers a breeze.

Together with ten digits(fingers) makes decimal-system more attractive/easier for humans.

[citation needed]

Hopefully people actually have the guts to use these with public servants.

Lmao. That's awesome. Just don't be surprised about people being disappeared down a dark alley.

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