It is a matter of concern that India has earned the dubious distinction of having the highest bribery rate in Asia
There is a strong connection between corruption and inequality. In fact, the two feed off each other to create a vicious circle between graft and unequal distribution of power and wealth in a society. It is a matter of concern that India has earned the dubious distinction of having the highest bribery rate in Asia. The latest report of the Transparency International, a global anti-corruption watchdog, paints a gloomy picture of India where it is said that most number of people use personal connections to access public services. Nearly 32% of those who used personal connections to get their work done said they would not have received the service if they had not paid the bribes. The report is based on a survey conducted between June 17 and July 17 this year with a sample size of 2,000. Apart from the highest bribery rate of 39% in the region, India also has the highest rate of people using personal connections to access public services. Bribery in public services continues to plague the country. An excruciatingly slow and complicated bureaucratic process, unnecessary red tape and opaque regulatory frameworks force citizens to seek out alternative solutions to access basic services through networks of familiarity and petty corruption. Terms like ‘sifarish’ and ‘pairavi’ have become part of common parlance. Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had once famously remarked that of every rupee spent on welfare schemes in India, only 15 paise reach the common man. Unfortunately, India is still grappling with procedural bottlenecks that breed middlemen.
The countries where the incidence of corruption is low typically have transparent public policies and business practices, well-distributed political power and high levels of trustworthiness. This will result in strengthening democracy and creation of equal opportunities. In countries like India, there is a need for streamlining administrative processes for public services, implementing preventative measures to combat bribery and nepotism, and investing in user-friendly online platforms to deliver essential public services quickly and effectively. Though the successive governments made efforts to curb corruption, the outcomes of these initiatives have been far from encouraging. The NDA government’s much-touted demonetisation move was ostensibly aimed at checking corruption and unearthing black money but ended up creating more hardship for people. The Aadhaar, Jan Dhan and mobile payment schemes, unveiled by the government to reduce intermediaries, too had their share of implementation issues. Citizens must have access to safe and confidential reporting mechanisms and governments must do more to ease citizens’ fear of retaliation in reporting corruption. On this front, some States like Telangana have taken exemplary initiatives and made commendable progress. Dharani, a one-stop portal for all land transactions in Telangana, is one such initiative worthy of emulation by other States.
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