For More Info Log on to

Google Groups Subscribe to RTI Group
Browse Archives at

Saturday, July 5, 2008

More Corrupt: India slips in Transparency International rankings

Publication: Times Of India Delhi; Date:2008 Jul 05; Section:Editorial; Page Number 18

Recently a raid on the deputy commissioner of commercial taxes in Bangalore revealed that he is the owner of 102 cars. That appears to confirm the common perception that corruption is an intrinsic part of Indian public life. This is validated by surveys too. Transparency International has placed India two notches lower on this year’s Corruption Perception Index than it had in 2007. The only saving grace is that compared to its neighbours, India seems to have done well. Pakistan, for instance, is at 140th position compared to India’s 74th. Nepal and Sri Lanka are ranked a lowly 135 and 96 respectively. China though is ranked one place above India. Another new study by Transparency International and the Centre for Media Studies found that Indians believed public services to be more corrupt than they actually are.
But can we take heart from that? Not really, as the 102 cars in the possession of Bangalore’s taxman show. India still has miles to go in rooting out corruption in public life. The introduction of Right to Information (RTI) legislation may have had an impact on making government more accountable. An independent media working as a watchdog also helps. But hush money, graft and bribes are rampant in public life. And this is true for all government offices that deal with the public.
What is worrying is that the Transparency International report on India found that about Rs 9,000 crore had been paid as bribes by the poor. Indeed, the poor are disproportionately affected by corruption since they depend more on public services. According to the report, one out of every three people living below the poverty line in India paid bribes to access basic public services such as education, health care and water. Corruption is proving to be the biggest hurdle in the way of poverty alleviation programmes. Leakages in government spending programmes mean that very little is actually reaching the poor.
However, all is not lost. The RTI and the media are contributing to efforts to tackle corruption in government and politics. That is a healthy sign. But much more needs to be done to fight corruption. After all, corruption is a key factor in keeping the benefits of India’s growth from trickling down, leading to inequality and political instability.

No comments: