•India ranks 95 among 183 countries with a score of 3.1 in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index during 2011. China ranks 75 (score 3.6), Pakistan ranks 134 (score 205), Bangladesh ranks 120 (score 2.7) and Sri Lanka ranks 86 (score 3.3).
•45 percent of the rural households opined that ‘corruption has increased’ in public services in the previous one year (preceding the India Corruption Study 2010)*
•11.5% respondents in the India Corruption Study 2010 had paid a bribe for PDS, 9% for hospitals, 5.8% for schools and 4.3% for water supply. On an average in a year, a rural household paid around Rs 164 as bribe to avail of these four public services*
•Rs. 8,830 million, in all, was paid as bribe by below poverty line (BPL) households in 2006-07**
•The poorest households of India paid Rs. 2,148 million to police as bribe in 2006-07**
•In Judiciary, of those who paid bribe, 28 percent paid bribe to get done routine jobs like listing of case or to get copy of documents***
•Kerala stood out to be the least corrupt state and Bihar stood out to be most corrupt state both during 2005*** and 2007**
•In the case of NREGS, 25 percent of BPL households who availed the service in 2006-07 paid bribe to a local “public representative”**
* India Corruption Study 2010, Centre for Media Studies
** India Corruption Study—2007, Transparency India International and Centre for Media Studies
*** India Corruption Study–2005, carried out by Transparency India International (TII) and Centre for Media Studies (CMS)
Is corruption a livelihoods issue? According to a World Bank study, the cost of corruption in India is around 3 per cent of its GDP. In other words, corruption erodes the gains of overall national growth, slows down economic activity, and gets in the way of investments and job creation. It also undermines the rule of law by making it possible for the rich and powerful to subvert the system by paying bribes. All this weakens the society’s moral fibre and sets off a vicious cycle of more crime and more corruption leading to more inequalities and more miseries for the poor.
The poor in India routinely pay for the enrichment of the powerful. Many studies show that the poor are forced to pay bribes for services that the middle and upper classes take for granted. For instance, it is common for those living in unauthorised colonies to pay several layers of civic bureaucracy to get electricity or water connections but the slum dwellers pay even more, like two to three rupees for a bucket of water, and several times more to get an illegal power connection. Corruption in administration has a direct bearing on the delivery of services and benefits to people they are meant for. This compromises the spirit of democracy by distorting resource allocation and undermining planning and policy implementation.
From ration or BPL cards to land administration and from petty government officials to the judiciary, the rural poor have to pay bribes for every service meant for them. According to a Transparency International-CMS survey, Judiciary and land services occupy the second and third slots for India’s most corrupt departments after the police. Even the health services, particularly the government hospitals, are very high on the corruption index. It is common knowledge that the poorest of India’s poor have to pay bribes to exercise their right to employment under the NREGS. According to official estimates a third of all food grains meant for the Public Distribution System (PDS) are illegally sold in the open market.
The TI-CMS survey also shows that India’s most backward states like Bihar and Madhya Pradesh also happen to be India’s most corrupt whereas States that fare better on the Human Development Index (HDI) like Kerala and Himachal Pradesh are among least corrupt. India’s overall ranking on TI’s Corruption Perception Index is 88th among 159 countries. (Check the latest ranking). The debate about the causes for corruption is unending but it is widely believed that political corruption is at the root of widespread corruption in public services. Several high powered committees appointed so far to look into the cases of corruption have recommended steps like ban on criminals fighting elections and harsher punishments and disqualification for those convicted of corruption and criminal activities, protection for the whistle blower, strict norms for auditing and disclosures, and empowerment of regulators like the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Election Commission (EC)