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Overview of Corruption and Anti-

Corruption Efforts in India


What is the latest on corruption and anti-corruption in India? Are there any recent studies?

Purpose: administration, infrastructure, public utilities, and the

police. The latter has been identified as one of the most
corrupt institutions by various surveys. The
I am going to India to participate in inspection of Government has put in place a well developed legal
our Embassy in Delhi, including development and institutional framework, with institutions including
cooperation. the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the
Comptroller and the Auditor General, and the Central
Content: Vigilance Commission. The Supreme Court, in
particular, has taken a firm stance against corruption in
Part 1: Overview of Corruption in India recent years and made several important rulings.
Another achievement in the fight against corruption has
Part 2: Anti-Corruption Efforts in India
been the enactment of the Right to Information (RTI)
Part 3: Further Reading Act in 2005, which grants citizens access to
government information and a mechanism to control
public spending. In spite of progress, however, law
Summary: enforcement remains weak and reforms have a long
way to go.
The fight against corruption has been declared a high
priority by Prime Minister ManMohan Singh. However, Part 1: Overview of Corruption in India
corruption remains widespread in the country and there
have been many instances of political and bureaucratic
Since 1991, economic liberalisation in India has
corruption, public funds embezzlement, fraudulent
reduced red tape and bureaucracy, supported the
procurement practices, and judicial corruption. High
transition towards a market economy and transformed
ranking officials have also been involved in major
the economy, with record growth rates of 9.2% in 2007
corruption scandals. The sectors most affected by
and 9.6% in 2006. However, though the Indian
corruption include public procurement, tax and customs

Authored by: Marie Chêne, U4 Helpdesk, Transparency International, mchene@transparency.org

Reviewed by: Robin Hodess Ph.D., Transparency International, rhodess@transparency.org
Date: 21 January 2009

U4 Expert Answers provide targeted and timely anti-corruption expert advice to U4 partner agency staff
Overview of Corruption in India

economy has become the 6th largest in the world, its approximately US$ 113 million and used the excess to
growth has been uneven across social and economic pay middle men that helped secure the deal.
groups, with sections of society experiencing some of
the highest levels of poverty in the world. Endemic In January 2009: Satyam Computer Services Ltd was
corruption contributes to this uneven distribution of barred by the World Bank from bidding for contracts for
wealth. The cost of corruption, perceptible in public eight years and top officials were arrested after a major
sector inefficiencies and inadequate infrastructure, is financial fraud over several years was disclosed.
undermining efforts to reduce poverty and promote
sustainable growth.
Corruption Surveys and Indices
Extent of Corruption

Major Corruption Scandals Though India is credited with having made considerable
progress in terms of economic reform over the past few
Major scandals involving high level public officials have years, corruption is perceived to be widespread and
shaken the Indian public service in recent years, with entrenched at all levels of the political and
politicians and public servants regularly caught administrative system. India ranks 85 from 180
accepting bribes or mismanaging public resources. This countries surveyed in Transparency International’s
suggests corruption has become a pervasive aspect of 2008 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), with a score
Indian politics and bureaucracy. A report by Global of 3.4. Since the first iterations of the index, India has
Integrity provides an overview of the major corruption scored between 2.7 and 3.5, indicating that - despite
scandals that have hit the headlines over the past some progress - corruption continues to be perceived
years, including: as rampant and endemic by the various CPI sources.
September 2000: Former President Rao was convicted ndices/cpi).
of criminal conspiracy and corruption in the 1993 vote-
buying scandal and became the first Indian Prime Similarly, the 2007 World Bank Governance
Minister to be convicted in a criminal case. He was Indicators suggest little change over the years. The
acquitted on appeal, however, in March 2002. country performs consistently above average on
indicators of voice and accountability, government
March 2001: Following the release by an Indian news effectiveness and the rule of law, but poorly in terms of
website of a videotape showing 31 politicians, high regulatory quality and control of corruption1. Its rating
level officials, bureaucrats and army officials taking for political stability is particularly weak
bribes, the Defence Minister and leaders of the ruling (http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.asp).
BJP party were forced to resign. Four defence ministry
officials were also suspended. Freedom House 2008 comes to similar conclusions,
noting that government effectiveness and accountability
September 2005: Railway Minister Laloo Prasad continue to be undermined by the close connections
Yadav was charged with misappropriating state funds between crime and politics, weak government
in the long running “fodder scam”. He and Bihar Chief institutions and widespread corruption.
Minister were charged with embezzling over US$ 40 (http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page
million in state funds intended for the purchase of =363&year=2008&country=7411).
animal fodder. In total, 170 persons were charged in
connection with this scandal. According to the Global Corruption Barometer 2007,
petty corruption is common practice in India with 25%
In January 2006: A reporter in Assam writing articles of respondents admitting paying bribes to obtain basic
accusing local forestry service officials of having links to
timber smuggling was murdered.

In March 2006: The BJP alleged corruption in a military

contract to buy six submarines from two French
1 From 1998 to 2007, India’s control of corruption scores
range from between 48.1 to 46. 6.
companies, claiming that the government overpaid by

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Overview of Corruption in India

services. Citizens do not expect the situation to change Forms of Corruption

in the short term and expressed scepticism with regard
to government political will and/or capacity to curb Most reports and studies emphasise that the country
corruption. 90% of respondents believed that corruption continues to face major governance challenges. There
would increase in the next three years while 68% is a lack of transparency in governance rules,
perceived government efforts against corruption as procedures are complicated and the bureaucracy
ineffective. enjoys broad discretionary power. Nepotism is
(http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_i embedded in the civil service, journalists are harassed
ndices/gcb/2007). for reporting on corruption and recent years have seen
an increase in off-the-books campaign finance
A corruption survey published in June 2008 by arrangements.
Transparency International-India and the Centre for (http://report.globalintegrity.org/India/2007).
Media Studies India confirms these findings. One-third
of Below Poverty Line (BPL) households across the 31 The country is further characterised by rigid
states covered by the survey paid bribes to access one bureaucratic structures, an exclusivist process of
or more of 11 public services. The percentage of decision-making, overly centralised government,
respondents paying bribes to access services was poorly-paid civil servants and the absence of effective
especially high for the police, land registration and internal control mechanisms. Political corruption and
housing. These findings echo the results of a 2005 corruption scandals involving high ranking officials and
corruption survey conducted by Transparency ministers periodically hit the headlines, undermining the
International India2 which found that more than 50% of legitimacy of democratic processes and citizens’ trust in
the respondents had firsthand experience of paying public institutions.
bribes or peddling influence to get a job done in a
public office. A recent analysis of reports of bribery demands in India
(http://www.transparencyindia.org/publication.htm). conducted by Trace International was published in
January 2009 and provides an overview of the general
India is also perceived to export corruption outside its patterns of corruption in the country. 96 anonymous
borders. The country comes at the bottom of reports about bribery demands were filed between July
Transparency International’s 2008 Bribe Payer 2007 and October 2008 on the organisation’s Business
Index3, ranking 19 from 22 countries with a score of Registry for International Bribery and extortion
6.8. This indicates that Indian firms are perceived by (BRIBEline). This is a secure, multilingual online tool for
business people as very likely to engage in bribery reporting bribe demands worldwide. 91% of the
when doing business abroad. reported bribe demands were requested by a
(http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_i government official, including 33% from national level
ndices/bpi). officials, 30% from the police, and 16% from state or
provincial officials. 77% of the reports described bribe
demands made for avoiding harm rather than for
gaining an advantage. Of those, more than 51% were
for the timely delivery of services to which the individual
was already entitled, such as clearing customs or
getting a telephone connection. Only 12% of the
reported bribe demands were for gaining an advantage.
This survey sampled 14,405 respondents from 150 cities (https://secure.traceinternational.org/news/pdf/IndiaRep
and 360 villages. ortPressKit011009.pdf).

Bureaucratic corruption
The 2008 BPI ranks 22 of the world’s wealthiest and
economically dominant countries by the likelihood of their These findings confirm the prevalence of the
firms to bribe abroad. bureaucratic and administrative forms of corruption that
take place at the implementation end of politics, where
the public meets public officials. Bureaucratic
corruption pervades the Indian administrative system
with widespread practices of bribery, nepotism, and

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Overview of Corruption in India

misuse of official positions and resources. The them to save the Manmohan Singh government. The
Bertelsmann Foundation 2008 report states that India report presented in December 2008 found the evidence
is characterised by a deeply rooted patronage system unconvincing and recommended further investigations
and pervasive corruption at all levels of the polity and on the role played by the three parliamentarians.
administration. (http://www.bertelsmann- (http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/dec/16upavote-cash-
transformation-index.de/125.0.html?&L=1). for-vote-scam-report-referred-to-home-ministry.htm).

The entry of criminals into politics - despite laws

The 2006 World Bank Enterprise Survey also requiring public disclosure of candidates’ assets,
confirms the prevalence of bureaucratic and criminal records and educational backgrounds - is
administrative corruption in the country. Red tape and another alarming facet of political corruption in India.
wide ranging administrative discretion serve as a According to The Economist, more than a fifth of
pretext for extortion and almost 48% of the firms federal parliament members in 2008 faced criminal
surveyed expected to pay informal payments to public charges. Of the 522 members of India’s current
officials to get things done. Close to 26% of the parliament, 120 are facing criminal charges; around 40
respondents identified corruption as a major constraint of these are accused of serious crimes, including
for doing business in the country. murder and rape.
(http://www.enterprisesurveys.org/ExploreEconomi (http://www.economist.com/surveys/displaystory.cfm?st
es/?economyid=89&year=2006). Companies also
ranked corruption as the fourth most problematic factor
for doing business in India in the World Economic Vulnerable Sectors and Institutions
Forum Global Competitiveness Report – India 2007-
2008, indicating that corruption seriously compromises Public procurement
private sector development in the country.
(http://gcr07.weforum.org/). Public procurement is especially vulnerable to
corruption in most developing countries. In India, there
is a reasonably good framework of rules and
Political Corruption procedures for public procurement that requires open
tenders available to all qualified firms without
The public trust in democratic processes in India is discrimination, the use of non-discriminatory tender
seriously undermined by opaque financing of electoral documents, public bid openings and selection of the
processes, widespread bribery and other forms of most advantageous tenders, taking all factors into
corrupt practices. The 2007 Global Corruption consideration. These regulations are apparently poorly
Barometer reveals that political parties are perceived by enforced, however, as public contracting continues to
Indian citizens as one of the sectors most affected by be marred by major corruption scandals involving high
corruption in the country, with a score of 4.6 on a 5 level politicians. In the 2006 World Enterprise survey,
point scale. Freedom House 2008 reports that the close to 24% of respondent firms confirmed they were
electoral system relies on black money obtained by expected to make a gift or payment to secure a
dubious means, including tax evasion. Although government contract.
politicians are regularly involved in major corruption
scandals, investigations are rare and very few In addition, companies face different laws in different
politicians and civil servants have been convicted. states, which complicate their operation throughout the
country. According to the World Bank Country
Circumstantial evidence confirms that practices such as Procurement Assessment Report 2003, the Indian
buying votes with bribes or promises, conflicts of public procurement system is generally affected by a
interest, or state capture are common in India. In lack of consistency as well as low credibility and public
December 2005, 11 members of parliaments were confidence in the system. Corruption is perceived to be
accused of accepting cash for raising specific questions worse at the state level than at the federal level, due to
in Lok Sabha sessions and subsequently forced to the lack of qualified staff and widespread political
resign. More recently, a Parliamentary Enquiry interference in state administration. The report further
Committee was established to look into the alleged notes that the average bribe to obtain a public contract
cash-for-votes scam during a trust vote that took place is estimated at 15% of the contract’s value. (http://www-
in July 2008. Three parliamentarians displayed wads of wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/I
currency notes alleging that huge sums were offered to

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Overview of Corruption in India

B/2004/04/02/000012009_20040402111746/Rendered/ compel citizens to pay bribes. About half of them paid a

PDF/278590IN.pdf). bribe for ensuring that their complaint could be
Licences and public utilities
Examples of corrupt practices among the police have
52.2% of the firms surveyed by the above-mentioned also been identified in a 2006 Marketing and
2006 World Bank Enterprise survey reported being Development Research Associates/Transparency India
expected to give gifts to secure an operating licence. report on corruption in trucking operations. The study
Corruption also affects access to public utilities such as reveals that truck drivers must pay bribes at every
water, phone and electricity. Compared to the 2006 stage of their operations, mostly to police forces, to
edition of the Global Corruption Barometer, most obtain permits, for traffic violations or toll payments.
utilities and departments have fared worse in terms of When transporting goods across the country,
public perception of corruption in 2007. Procedures stoppages by authorities on the pretext of checking
surrounding access to water and electricity are documents are frequent. According to truck drivers,
complicated and cumbersome and firms may be 60% of the checkpoints and forced stoppages on roads
tempted to make ‘facilitation payments’ to speed up the are for extorting money.
process. Close to 40% of the World Bank Enterprise (http://www.transparencyindia.org/publication.htm).
survey reported paying bribes to get an electrical
connection and 27% to get a water connection. Police recruitment is also compromised by practices of
According to the Global Corruption Report 2008, nepotism, bribery and political interference. Until the
citizens believe that corruption is on the rise in these apex court4 granted the Indian Police Service (IPS)
sectors. autonomy from political control in 2006, the Minister
had powers of transfers and promotion over police
Tax and customs administration chiefs’ careers. In 2007, in Uttar-Pradesh, an inquiry
into fraudulent practices in police recruitment led to the
52.3% of the firms covered by the World Bank dismissal of 10,000 police officers over alleged
Enterprise survey reported being expected to give gifts irregularities in their recruitment processes
in meetings with tax officials. In this sector, rules and (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7003978.st
procedures are extremely cumbersome; giving tax m).
officials wide discretionary powers to interpret the rules.
Some are suspected of deliberately stalling As the police - along with the courts - are the public
administrative procedures to induce facilitation institutions most directly involved in sanctioning and
payments. Bribes may be paid for an under- punishing corrupt practices, police corruption seriously
assessment of incomes or to obtain penalty reductions undermines the government’s anti-corruption efforts.
or tax refunds. According to the 2005 TI India
corruption survey, 20% of the respondents admitted Judicial corruption
having paid bribes to the tax department, while 60%
perceived the department to be corrupt. The Indian court system consists of a supreme court,
high courts at state level and subordinate courts at
The police force district and local level. According to the Global
Corruption Report 2007, the upper judiciary is
The 2007 Global Corruption Barometer identifies the considered relatively clean, with open court
police force as one of the institutions most affected by proceedings and free access to prosecution
corruption, with a score of 4.5 on a 5 point scale. The documents, authenticated orders, etc. In the lower
2005 TI-India corruption survey also ranks the police as justice institutions, corruption is reportedly rampant and
the most corrupt public service in India - with 80% of systemic. (Please see:
citizens believing that corruption exists in the police
force and 77% believing it is on the rise. The 2007 TI-
India/CMS study indicates that 48% of below poverty
line households who interacted with the police claimed
to have paid a bribe while 17% used a contact to
The term is mostly found in texts originating in India, where
access police services. Many of them claimed that the Apex Court stands for the Indian Supreme Court.
procedural delays were part of a deliberate strategy to

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Overview of Corruption in India

http://www.transparency.org/publications/gcr/downl (http://www.business-anti-
oad_gcr/download_gcr_2007). The Global corruption.com/normal.asp?pageid=205).
Corruption Barometer 2007 gives the judiciary a score
of 3.8 on a 5 point scale, while 80% of the 2005 TI India Both the 2005 and 2007 TI-India corruption studies also
CMS study’s respondents perceive the judiciary as point to regional variations in corruption patterns. For
corrupt. 47% claim to have paid bribes to lawyers or example, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and
court officials. Maharashtra are perceived to experience moderate
levels of corruption while states such as Bihar, Jammu
Court procedures are very slow and complicated, and and Kashmir and Madhya Pradesh are affected by
the court system is severely backlogged and alarming levels of corruption. In 2007, the level of
understaffed. This results in delays in the processing of corruption was found to be moderate in all services
cases, and a loss of confidence in the law and in the studied in Himachal Pradesh, whereas in Madhya
justice system. (Freedom House 2008 estimates that Pradesh and Assam, the level of corruption in all
there are currently 30 million civil and criminal cases services was high, very high or alarming.
pending). There is also a high level of discretion in the
processing of paperwork during trials and multiple There are also regional differences in the sectors and
points where court officials can misuse their power with institutions most affected by corruption at the state
impunity. In such contexts, people are tempted to resort level, as illustrated by the 2005 study:
to bribes, favours, hospitality or gifts not only to obtain a
favourable decision but to move the case through the • In Gujarat, the judiciary, the police and land
system and speed up the court proceedings. administration are ranked as the most corrupt
services in the state.
The independence of the judiciary is guaranteed by the • In Maharashtra, municipal services are
Constitution and India is ranked 26th of 131 countries perceived as most corrupt.
on indicators of judicial independence in the Global • In Punjab, the police, the judiciary and
Competitiveness Report 2007-2008. According to the municipal services are perceived to be most
Global Corruption Report 2007, however, there have affected by corruption.
been recent cases of political interference in judicial • In Bihar, all public services are ranked among
decisions involving powerful individuals. In spite of the the most corrupt in India;
various legal provisions in place, the appointment of • According to Freedom House 2008, rebel
judges is not always free from political interference. The groups operate extensive extortion networks in
Global Integrity Report 2007 also rates judicial the North East of the country, compounding
accountability as weak. the impact of corruption in the various affected
(http://report.globalintegrity.org/India/2007/scoreca states.
Part 2: Anti-Corruption Efforts in India
The weakness of the judiciary, the lack of political
independence of the police and poor law enforcement India’s performance on the 2007 Global Integrity
contribute to a culture of impunity where few politicians Index indicates a huge gap between anti-corruption
or civil servants are indicted or convicted for corruption. policies and practice. The legal and institutional
framework to curb corruption is well developed and the
Regional Patterns country receives high scores in terms of anti-corruption
law and institutions. An analysis was conducted by
India has a decentralised federal system of government Transparency India in 2007 to identify possible gaps
in which state governments possess broad regulatory between the UN Convention against Corruption
power. Although corruption is found to be pervasive (UNCAC) and the legal and institutional framework in
across all states and public services, several reports place in the country. The report confirmed the good
indicate important regional variations in the level and quality of the legal framework against corruption in
impact of corruption. A World Bank and IFC report from India, with existing legislation in line with most of the
2004 notes that corruption and excessive regulations requirements of the UNCAC. The largest – and almost
are cited as major obstacles to business across all only - substantial gap was identified by the report in the
India, but that these figures rise respectively to 62% area of whistleblower protection.
and 64% in the states of Gujarat and Karnataka. (http://www.transparencyindia.org/publication/U_N_Con

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Overview of Corruption in India

vention_against_corruption.pdf). Law enforcement, whistleblowers reporting corruption cases. The Global

however, remains weak, suggesting a lack of political Integrity Report 2007 estimates that the resolution has
will to effectively address corruption challenges in the logged over 1300 complaints in the three years of its
country. existence. However, the CVC reported that over 30
whistleblowers have been harassed in spite of the
The Legal Framework confidentiality of PIDR complaints.

The 1988 Prevention of Corruption Act criminalises The Global Integrity Report further mentions that
corruption in the public and private sectors in the form important pieces of anti-corruption legislation have
of active and passive bribery, extortion, bribery of been pending for years, including the Corrupt Public
foreign officials, abuse of office and money laundering. Servants Bill and the Lok Pal Bill, which is supposed to
There is also a 2002 Prevention of Money address corruption in high offices, including the office of
Laundering Act (amended in 2005). At the local level, the Prime Minister. The Judge Inquiry Bill – which was
state governments have state laws that address designed to introduce an inquiry mechanism for
specific aspects of corruption. allegations and complaints against members of the
judiciary - and the Election Commission’s
The 2005 Right to Information (RTI) Act represents recommendation to debar candidates with a criminal
one of the country’s most critical achievements in the background from parliamentary or State Assembly
fight against corruption in recent years. Under the elections, have been held up for years.
provisions of the Act, any citizen may request
information from a "public authority" which is required to In terms of international norms, India endorsed the
reply expeditiously or within 30 days. The Act also ADB-OECD Anti-Corruption Action Plan in 2001, and
requires every public authority to computerise their has signed but not yet ratified the UN Convention
records for wide dissemination and to proactively against Corruption (UNCAC) and the UN Convention
publish certain categories of information for easy citizen against Transnational Organised Crime.
access. This act provides citizens with a mechanism to
control public spending. In the first year of National RTI, The Institutional Framework
42,876 (not yet official) applications for information
were filed to Central (i.e. Federal) public authorities. There are various bodies in place for implementing anti-
According to the Central Information Commission, RTI corruption policies and raising awareness on corruption
applications have annually increased by 8 to 10 times issues. At the federal level, key institutions include the
annually. Less than 5% of the million applications for Supreme Court, the Central Vigilance Commission
information have been denied information under (CVC), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the
various exemption categories. Office of the Controller & Auditor General (C&AG), and
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_Information_ the Chief Information Commission (CIC). At the Sate
level, local anti-corruption bureaux have been set up,
such as the Anti-corruption Bureau of Maharashtra.
(Please see: http://www.business-anti-
India does not have a law to protect whistleblowers. corruption.com/normal.asp?pageid=205).
However, following the murder in 2003 of Sri Satyendra
Dubey, who exposed corruption in the National The Supreme Court has taken a stronger stance
Highway Authority, the Government faced increased against corruption in recent years, as confirmed by the
pressure to ensure whistleblower protection and issued Bertelsmann Foundation Report 2008. It has
a resolution known as the Public Interest Disclosure challenged the powers of states in several instances.
Resolution (PIDR). This resolution authorised the For example, in 2007 in Uttar Pradesh, it challenged
Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to be the the state governor’s powers to pardon politically
‘Designated Agency’ to receive written complaints for connected individuals based on arbitrary
disclosure on any allegation of corruption or misuse of considerations. In other instances, judges have taken
office and to recommend appropriate action. The CVC on a stronger role in responding to public interest
can take action against anyone who leaks the names of litigation over official corruption and environmental
whistleblowers and witnesses and may request police issues. In December 2006, in a landmark ruling, the
assistance to investigate complaints. The Central Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors do not need prior
Bureau of Investigation also has an online complaints permission to begin proceedings against politicians
mechanism which guarantees the protection of

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Overview of Corruption in India

facing corruption charges5. It has also started Report for being independent and well-staffed, with
addressing corruption in the police by mandating the offices of Accountant Generals (AG) in all states. The C
establishment of a police commission to look into these & AG has produced several reports on state
matters and has ruled that corrupt officers can be departments such as railways, telecommunications,
prosecuted without government consent. public sector enterprise, and tax administration. These
reports have revealed many financial irregularities,
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is an suggesting a lack of monitoring of public expenses,
independent watchdog agency established in 1964. poor targeting and corrupt practices in many branches
The CVC has the power to undertake inquiries or of government. However, since the C & AG has no
investigations of transactions involving certain authority to ensure compliance with its
categories of public servants. It also has supervisory recommendations, the government often fails to
powers over the Central Bureau of Investigations. The implement the reports’ proposals.
CVC can investigate complaints against high level
public officials at the central level, in cases where they The Chief Information Commission (CIC) was
are suspected of having committed an offence under established in 2005 and came into operation in 2006. It
the Prevention of Corruption Act. The CVC is mandated has delivered decisions instructing government, courts,
to investigate public sector corruption at the federal universities, police, and ministries on how to share
level and not at the state level. The CVC has an online information of public interest. State information
whistleblower complaint mechanism available on its commissions have also been opened, thus giving
website. practical shape to the 2005 Right to Information (RTI)
Act. The commissions have not been immune to
More recently, the CVC is working in collaboration with criticism, however. Of India's 28 states, 26 have
Transparency International India on introducing officially constituted information commissions to
Integrity pacts in all state-owned public sector implement the RTI Act. Nine pioneered access to
companies, industries and banks. In December 2007, information laws before the RTI Act was passed. A
the Commissioner issued a directive to this effect which state report card one year on complimented the quality
has resulted in 32 public sector undertakings having of the law, but criticised the apathy and lack of
adopted an integrity pact. awareness of many citizens.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the global_corruption_report/gcr_2008).
prime investigating agency of the central government
and is generally referred to as a credible and respected E-Governance has considerably increased the speed
institution in the country. It is placed under the Ministry of government services in a number of areas and
of Personnel, Pensions & Grievances and consists of reduced opportunities for bribery. A wide range of
three divisions: the Anti-Corruption Division, the Special public services have been digitised such as obtaining
Crimes Division and the Economic Offences Division. licences, paying taxes and clearing goods. The
These units have the power to investigate cases of National Portal of India was subsequently created and
alleged corruption in all branches of the central lists all the services that have been digitised.
government, but need the permission of state
governments to investigate cases at the state level. The The assessment of the legal and institutional anti-
Supreme and High Courts can instruct the CBI to corruption framework points to a combination of robust
conduct investigations. Like the CVC, the CBI has a institutions and lack of accountability in key areas, as
complaint mechanism on its website. emphasised in the 2007 Global Integrity Report. Some
institutions such as the Supreme Court or the Election
The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General Commission have taken a stronger stance to combat
(C & AG) are praised by the 2007 Global Integrity malpractice in recent years, while key pieces of
legislation such as the RTI Act promote greater
bureaucratic transparency, granting citizens access to
public records. Despite these emerging trends,
however, the institutional anti-corruption framework
Until this ruling, assent was needed from the parliament generally suffers from a lack of coordination, and
speaker or a state governor to charge an MP or a legislator. overlapping and conflicting mandates between
institutions addressing corruption. Key institutions often

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Overview of Corruption in India

lack the staff and resources to fulfil their mandate Participatory audits of local government performance
adequately and struggle to protect themselves from were conducted based on these expenditure records.
political interference. Often, they primarily focus on The struggle to access official records led to a national
investigating alleged cases of corruption at the expense campaign for legislation granting citizens a right to
of preventive activities. Influential politicians and senior information that contributed to the adoption of the Right
officials are rarely convicted for corruption, eroding to Information Act in 2005. MKSS succeeded in getting
public confidence in the political will to effectively tackle the state government to change the local government
corruption. act to include local residents directly in auditing official
development schemes. (Please see:
Civil Society Initiatives http://www.bbk.ac.uk/polsoc/staff/academic/rob-
India enjoys a vigorous and vibrant civil society and one
of the freest media in South Asia. Both have played an The RTI act has opened up critical opportunities for civil
important role in placing corruption on the national society involvement in the fight against corruption. It
agenda. has allowed civil society organisations to participate in
debates on public spending and help them uncover
Freedom of association is fully guaranteed and the corrupt practices in many states and projects.
formation of interested groups is legally straight
forward, resulting in a proliferation of civil society There are several organisations that are explicitly active
organisations and movements. However, the 2008 in the anti-corruption arena, including:
Bertelsmann Foundation Report estimates that most
civil society organisations are poorly institutionalised, Transparency International India is the Indian
politically fragmented and rather weak, while Global Chapter of Transparency International. TI India
Integrity mentions cases of journalists being harassed promotes transparent practices in government, raises
for reporting corruption cases. Although freedom of the awareness among citizens, and partners with civil
press is guaranteed by the constitution, the Official society groups working towards similar goals. It
Secrets Act has been used by the government in the manages various projects in different areas, on different
past to censor articles or prosecute journalists, fronts, working in partnership with other NGOs to
although this practice seems to be on the decline. promote good governance, raise awareness about the
There have been recent instances where journalists RIA Act, and promoting the adoption of citizens’
have been harassed and newspapers offices attacked. charters in all public institutions. It also conducts anti-
In 2006, a journalist was killed after revealing corruption corruption research and social audits. TI India
in the state’s forestry services in a series of articles. advocates with like-minded NGOs for the ratification of
India is ranked 120th out of 169 countries on Reporters UNCAC (http://www.transparencyindia.org/).
without Borders’ Worldwide Press Freedom Index
2007. (Please see: http://www.business-anti-
corruption.com/normal.asp?pageid=205). The Centre for Media Studies (CMS) is a non-profit,
multi-disciplinary development research agency which
Despite these limitations, there is considerable potential has undertaken corruption tracking surveys since 2000.
for civil society impact in the fight against corruption. Its transparency Studies Unit publishes a quarterly
Civil society has played a critical role in advocating for magazine that compiles research on selected issues
access to information, which has resulted in the relevant for public accountability and transparency. It
enactment of the RTI Act. This is demonstrated by has published in collaboration with TI India the 2005
example of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and 2007 India Corruption Studies.
(MKSS) (http://www.mkssindia.org/). MKSS is a (http://www.cmsindia.org/cms/).
small organisation formed in the 1990s which seeks to
insert citizens and their associations directly into Parivartan was established in 2000 as an attempt to
oversight functions. It pioneered a method for the expose corruption within the Income Tax Department in
participatory audit of local spending in rural Rajasthan. New Delhi. The movement now focuses on using the
To combat various forms of official corruption in public RIA Act to promote transparency and accountability in
works programmes and fight for minimum wages, the public services.
organisation sought access to official expenditure
documents that could be verified by MKSS workers.

www.U4.no 9
Overview of Corruption in India

Part 3: Further Reading and Resources http://www.transparency.org./publications/gcr/download

on India _gcr

REPORTS National Integrity Survey 2003

TI’s National Integrity System (NIS) country studies are
Government of India qualitative reports that provide a detailed and nuanced
assessment of anti-corruption systems at country level.
The NIS on India can be found at:
Reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/nis/region
CAG) of India al
Among other information, the CAG website publishes
the latest audit reports of public sector institutions as
Freedom House 2008
well as disclosures under the right to Information Act.
India Country Report
The 43rd Central Vigilance Commission Report Freedom House publishes a flagship comparative
(2006) assessment report, which looks at global political rights
This latest published CVC annual report provides an and civil liberties in a wide range of countries. The 2007
overview of its operations, including data on numbers of country report on India can be found at:
complaints handled, nature of cases, public institutions http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=363
involved, and penalties applied. &year=2007&country=7194
Trace International 2009
Transparency International
BRIBEline Reports on India (2009)
TI India-CMS 2007 Corruption Studies (2008) This report by Trace International Inc analyses reports
This corruption study covers 31 states and union of bribery demands in India that have been filed on the
territories and is focused on poor and rural areas. It organisation’s Business Registry for International
includes below poverty line peoples in both rural areas Bribery and Extortion (BRIBEline), a secure,
and urban slums. http://www.transparencyindia.org/ multilingual, online tool for reporting bribe demands
TI India – MDRA Study on Corruption in F3B543B6525753E0043C05D?opendocument
Trucking Operations (2006)
This report is based on a study to assess the nature
and extent of corruption in trucking operations, using INDICES
both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The
report found that, for every kilometre covered by
commercial trucks, an average Re. 0.70 per km is paid Bertelsmann Transformation Index 2008
out in bribes. http://www.transparencyindia.org/ The BTI is a global ranking of transition processes, in
which the states of democracy and market economic
systems as well as the quality of political management
UNCAC Gap Analysis are analyzed in 125 transitional and developing
This gap analysis was conducted by TI India in 2007 to
countries. India is included in the analysis and the
identify the legal and institutional gaps existing between
rankings. The country reports can be found at:
the convention’s requirements and India’s legal and
institutional framework.

Global Corruption Report 2008 and 2007 Bribe Payers Index 2008
The TI Bribe Payers Index evaluates the supply side of
The country report section of TI’s Global Corruption
corruption. It consists of a ranking of 22 of the world’s
Report provides an overview of corruption-related
most economically influential countries according to the
problems in a selection of countries, worldwide
likelihood of their firms to bribe abroad. In 2008, it was
including India.

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Overview of Corruption in India

based on 2,742 interviews with senior business

executives in 26 countries and territories.

Corruption Perceptions Index 2008

The CPI is an “index of indices” composed of nine
different sources that provide a ranking of countries by
their perceived levels of corruption based on expert
assessments and opinion surveys. For the latest CPI
survey data on India please see:

Global Integrity Index 2007

The Global Integrity reports asses the strengths and
weaknesses of anti-corruption mechanisms worldwide.
The country assessments comprising the reports are
prepared by teams of in-country journalists, academics
and researchers. For the rankings please see:

World Bank Governance Indicators 2007

The Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI), produced
by the World Bank Research Institute, consist of six
aggregate indicators of governance including: voice
and accountability, political stability, regulatory quality,
rule of law, control of corruption. It covers 200 countries
and combines cross-country data from 30
organisations, including the sources used for the CPI.
For the current 2007 index please see:

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