While instances of massive corruption in distribution of natural resources have dominated headlines over the past few years, a new report from Transparency International says India’s position on the global Corruption Perception Index has actually improved over the past year. With a score of 38, India now ranks 85, as against 94 last year, out of 175 countries.
According to the Global Corruption Barometer, the survey published by Transparency International, 62 per cent of Indians reported having paid bribes to the police, while 41 per cent reported having paid bribes to the tax revenue. Of those surveyed, 86 per cent felt that political parties were corrupt, while 45 per cent felt that the judiciary was corrupt.
The improvement in rankings over the past year could partly reflect changes in perceptions due to the prosecution of high-level politicians associated with the 2G telecom spectrum and coal block allocations, and the hope that the new government would have a firm anti-corruption policy.
Taking into consideration opinions on public sector corruption, the index ranks countries based on public perceptions. Ranked on a scale of 0 to 100, a low score indicates widespread bribery, no punishment for corruption and public institutions that are not responsive to the needs of the people.
Surprisingly, despite initiating a massive anti-corruption campaign, China’s ranking has slipped to 100. The poor scores of emerging economies could indicate, as the report points out, a “general weak or ineffective leadership to counter corruption, which could pose threats for both sustainability of their economies and somewhat fragile democracies”.
But while perceptions about corruption might have changed, as the global corruption barometer points out, corruption faced by ordinary people, in accessing basic public services remains a matter of concern. As a large section of society is dependent on the government to provide medical, health and education services, paying bribes to access these services increases distrust in the system. The report states: “The bitter reality of political corruption in India is the inadequacy of structures of accountability and transparency to deter the corrupt and the access to such mechanisms by the people,” emphasising the need to create robust institutions free from political pressure and to ensure access to public services without having to pay bribes.