Petty graft less in India since 2005, but still high at Rs6,350 cr

28 April 2017

Although petty corruption has come down sharply in India, the total estimated bribes paid by households in the last one year for public services still stands at a high Rs6,350 crore - including amounts as low as Rs10, says a study.

According to CMS-Indian Corruption Study (CMS-ICS) 2017, around one-third of households experienced corruption in public services at least once during the last one year, down from 2005, when 53 per cent of households reported paying bribes.

Only 43 per cent of the households surveyed in 2017 were of the view that the level of corruption in public services has risen during the last one year, against 73 per cent of respondents who had perceived increase in corruption level in public services in 2005.

The study said that the decline in corruption is significant in case of some public services such as police and judicial services when compared to 2005 levels.

Total amount paid by households across 20 states and 10 public services as bribes is estimated to be Rs6,350 crore in 2017 as against Rs20,500 crore in 2005.

In most of the states, the bribe amount most often ranges between Rs100 and Rs500. However amounts as low as Rs10 and as high as Rs50,000 were also paid by households in the year for availing of a public service.

Among public services, the proportion households reporting experiencing corruption in police was at 34 per cent, followed by land/housing (24 per cent), judicial services (18 per cent) and tax (15 per cent) and Public Distribution System (12 per cent).

The study, which covered more than 3,000 households from over 200 rural and urban clusters of 20 states, noted a definite decline in both perception and experience of citizens about corruption in public services between 2005 and 2017.

It said that key reasons for paying bribe in a public service continue to be similar in most of the states between 2005 and 2017.

The reasons for corrupt practices could be broadly categorised as procedural; documentation related; payment evasion; and dependency on service provider.

Out of 20 states, households experiencing corruption in public services during last one year was highest in Karnataka (77 per cent), followed by Andhra Pradesh (74 per cent), Tamil Nadu (68 per cent), Maharashtra (57 per cent), Jammu & Kashmir (44 per cent) and Punjab (42 per cent).

In 2005, the percentage of households experiencing corruption in public services was more in Bihar (74 per cent), J&K (69 per cent), Odisha (60 per cent), Rajasthan (59 per cent) and Tamil Nadu (59 per cent).

According to the study, three less corrupt states in terms of households ''experiencing corruption in public services'' are Himachal Pradesh (3 per cent), Kerala (4 per cent) and Chhattisgarh (13 per cent).

In 2005, Kerala (35 per cent), Maharashtra (39 per cent) and Gujarat (43 per cent) were the less corrupt states.

CMS chairman N Bhaskara Rao said the key reasons for paying a bribe for a public service remained consistent between 2005 and 2017, "indicating there has been little focus on ground-level issues while addressing corruption".

While releasing the report, Debroy said the report focuses on everyday corruption which affects the daily lives of citizens rather than "big-ticket" corruption.

He said most of the big-ticket corruption is usually linked with elections and allocation of natural resources.

While batting for transparency, he said there was also need for subjectivity at higher levels of decision making.

"We need to ensure how to punish the mala fide while simultaneously ensuring protection of the bona fide," Debroy said.

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