Governance Now Visionary Talks Series

Which is the most corrupt institution in India?

No marks for guessing: political parties beat police in global survey

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Ashish Mehta | July 9, 2013



Our political parties, the ones that are the actual agents of democracy and in charge of this republic, are the most corrupt among 12 institutions of our country. Or that is what people perceive, going by the just-released annual opinion poll from the global coalition against corruption, Transparency International.

Among other major findings from ‘Global Corruption Barometer 2013’ is this one: that after at least two years of headline-grabbing protests along with media and judicial activism, people in India feel incidence of graft has only increased. In fact, that is the trend across the world, with most countries reporting the same.

But the saving grace is that Indians, more than citizens of most countries, feel they can make a difference. When asked about their “willingness to get involved” in fighting the corrupt, 99 out of 100 respondents in India said yes. Only people of Bangladesh and Vanuatu reported 100 percent positive answers.

READ Global Corruption Barometer 2013 (attached below) [India]

India’s Hall of Shame

Here is the people’s perception of 12 institutions in terms of corruption, on a scale of 1 to 5 (lesser the better):

Political parties: 4.4
Police: 4.1
Parliament/legislature: 3.8 / Public officials/civil servants: 3.8
Educational system: 3.7
Medical/health service: 3.6
Business/private sector: 3.4
Judiciary: 3.3 / Religious bodies: 3.3
Media: 3.2
NGOs: 2.9
Military: 2.5

Somewhat predictable, right, with police and bureaucrats towards the top and the armed forces at the bottom? 

In fact, if corruption and trust are in inverse proportion, then our survey for the Republic Day special this year, carried out by CVoter, was not wide off the mark. It had the armed forces on top of the trust rating, and police and parliament at the bottom (read the story here). As for parliament’s predicament, also read Jagdeep Chhokar’s comment here.

Among other findings relevant to India from this survey of 1,025 respondents:

* 31% say corruption has increased a little

* 86% thought that political parties were affected by corruption

41-60% people believe ordinary people can make a difference (for comparison, though, in Afghanistan and Pakistan the figures are 61-80%, and in Bangladesh 81-100%)

* Out of five listed anti-corruption activities, Indians prefer signing a petition (and so do people from the US and UK among others, though Afghans prefers joining a protest and Pakistanis prefer paying more honestly)

* 54% report they paid bribe to avail one or the other of the services (in fact, 36% say they paid “bribe to the judiciary” during the last one year)

From the report:
Key Findings

• Bribery is widespread
Overall, more than one in four people (27 percent) report having paid a bribe in the last 12 months when interacting with key public institutions and services.

• Public institutions entrusted to protect people suffer the worst levels of bribery
Among the eight services evaluated, the police and the judiciary are seen as the two most bribery-prone.
An estimated 31 per cent of people who came into contact with the police report having paid a bribe. For those interacting with the judiciary, the share is 24 percent.

• Governments are not thought to be doing enough to hold the corrupt to account
The majority of people around the world believe that their government is ineffective at fighting corruption and corruption in their country is getting worse.

• The democratic pillars of societies are viewed as the most corrupt
Around the world, political parties, the driving force of democracies, are perceived to be the most corrupt institution.

• Personal connections are seen as corrupting the public administration
People surveyed regard corruption in their country as more than just paying bribes: almost two out of three people believe that personal contacts and relationships help to get things done in the public sector in their country.

• Powerful groups rather than the public good are judged to be driving government actions
More than one in two people (54 percent) think their government is largely or entirely run by groups acting in their own interests rather than for the benefit of the citizens.

• People state they are ready to change this status-quo
Nearly 9 in 10 surveyed say they would act against corruption. The majority of people said that they would be willing to speak up and report an incident of corruption. Two-thirds of those asked to pay a bribe say they refused.

Recommendations

• Make integrity and trust the founding principles of public institutions and services

• Governments must operate with transparency and open up their books and activities to public scrutiny.

• Codes of conduct should be developed and adhered to by all public servants.

• Governments should embed transparency in how they work by passing and implementing comprehensive access to information laws.

• Countries should adopt and enact standards for procurement and public financial management, consistent with UN Convention Against Corruption Article 9 and the OECD Principles on Enhancing Integrity in Public Procurement.

• Governments must set up accountability mechanisms and channels that get the public engaged in oversight.

• People should refuse to pay a bribe, wherever asked and whenever possible.

• Bring back the rule of law

• Governments should prioritise anti-corruption reforms in the police, based on a thorough analysis of underlying problems.

• Governments must ensure the independence and impartiality of their judiciaries.

• Governments must set up adequate checks-and-balances to ensure that private interests and power groups do not dictate a government’s policies and actions.

• Hold the corrupt to account

• All governments must work to end impunity by effectively preventing, detecting, investigating, prosecuting and punishing acts of corruption.

• Elected public officials should not enjoy immunity when charged with corruption offences.

• People should make use of existing reporting mechanisms to speak out about corruption that they witness or experience.

• People should use their voice, vote and spending to punish the corrupt, such as only voting for clean candidates and parties that stand in elections or only buying from companies that have strong integrity systems and clean business practices.

• Clean-up democratic processes.

• Governments should pass and implement laws on making party financing transparent, including requirements for political parties, political candidates and their donors to publicly disclose donations.

• Parliaments should adopt comprehensive codes of conduct for members, including guidance on conflict of interest situations and rules for disclosure of assets, interests and income.

• Parliaments should introduce mandatory registers of lobbyists.

• Give people the tools and protections to fight against corruption

• Governments should pass and implement whistleblower laws. These laws should include appropriate follow up mechanisms to allow people to report wrongdoing in the public and private sectors and protect whistleblowers from retribution.

• Governments should seek to provide people with effective mechanisms to report corruption and get redress.

• Governments should enable independent civil society organisations to function as effective watchdogs of government and to help people to hold public officials to account.

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