Tired of the headlines on scams and corrupt politicians, in 2014, Indians voted for a regime change with an overwhelming majority. One of the tall promises made by the then-opposition party was wiping out corruption from the country as soon as they came to power. It is six years later and the situation seems unchanged.
According to the survey-report Global Corruption Barometer – Asia by Transparency International, 47% people surveyed in India believe that corruption has increased over the past 12 months, with mere 12% of the respondents displaying great deal of trust on the government. The watchdog surveyed over 20,000 people across 17 Asian countries and found out that India had the highest bribery rate of 39% in the region, with 46% respondents having used personal connections to access public services.
Nearly 50% of those who paid bribes were asked to, while 32% of those who used personal connections said they would not receive the service otherwise. This is on the back of “slow and complicated bureaucratic process, unnecessary red tape and unclear regulatory frameworks”, mentions the report. Further, 18% agreed to have offered bribes in exchange for votes, 11% have experienced sextortion or know someone who has, 57% believe that the government is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves and 52% have no clue about the Right to Information Act.
After India, the report finds, Cambodia has the second highest bribery rate at 37%, followed by Indonesia at 30%. When it comes to using personal connections to get a job done, India is followed by Indonesia and China, at 36% and 32% respectively. It concludes that nearly one in five Asians have paid a bribe in the past year, which equates to 836 million citizens in the 17 countries surveyed. To counter these practices, the civil society body recommends enforcing laws to protect whistleblowers, introducing competitive salaries in administrative services, strengthening independence of anti-corruption agencies and creating accessible gender-sensitive reporting mechanisms.
But, right now, the government is preoccupied with the construction of a new Parliament building. So, it might be a while before the corruption problem is addressed, if at all.