India’s Central Vigilance Commission has taken umbrage at a recent report of the Transparency International the global corruption tracking watch dog. Transparency International has downgraded India’s ranking from 72 to 85 in the list of world’s corruption-plagued countries. That has upset the chief babu of India’s own corruption watchdog, the Central Vigilance Commission, Pratyush Sinha, who has taken up the matter of India’s downgrading and wanted to know the methodology used to measure corruption across countries. TI’s reply hasn’t been to their satisfaction and that has upset the CVC more.
To most of us living in the country, the CVC’s gesture would look to be mere posturing. this attempt to play around with statistics. It is a bit like the data on inflation – inflation may have dropped to below 1 percent as per the official gazettes, but the potatoes and the cauliflowers at the local vegetable seller don’t seem to be getting any cheaper.
The way things are set up in India, the climate is more favourable to bribe taking and opacity than simplicity of procedures and transparency. Let me give an example: the other day, a friend and a colleague had to get a Trust deed registered at the office of the Registrar of Trusts. After we had put together the Trust deed with the help of a lawyer, and got our photographs and other papers ready, we proceeded to the Registrar’s office. The lawyer encouraged us to leave the matter to him and his staff “Have coffee in my office and I will call you when it is time” was his advice. Once we reached the Registrar’s office, we understood the poignancy of the lawyer’s counsel. There were a bunch of windows and surrounding each was a motley crowd of hands and feet; each trying to make eye contact with the clerk at the other end and simultaneously push through a cluster of papers. The sight would make a typical citizen shudder.
One of the reasons corruption thrives in India is the fact that procedures to get any thing done are so incredibly complex and opaque and there seems to be a deliberate attempt at several levels of officialdom to keep things thus; so that almost invariably, the common man has to take recourse to brokers and middle men to get things done. These men then not only get the things fixed but also act as a conduit for the money that cannot be obviously exposed to the public gaze.
Although e governance has made some difference to the common man by making some aspects of government accessible to the common man, there is a lot to be done. In many instances, complicated and antiquated procedures have simply been mounted on line, and that does not help much.
Coming back to Transparency International and their corruption index, how are the neighbors doing? Well, Bangladesh is at number 147, Pakistan at 134, Nepal at 121, Myanmar at 178, Sri, Lanka at 92. India could pat itself on the back for its South Asia region, except for the fact that tiny and impoverished Bhutan stands at number 45, standing tall.
the Central Vigilance Commission is complaining about the data that Transparency International and quibbling that the number that India ought to occupy ought to be 71 or 73 or some thing in that region. may be instead of squabbling about data, the CVC should send some babus on a study tour of Bhutan to check out just what is it that they do right that we can copy. May copy book style India “jugaar” to reduce corruption will get us better rankings next year than a representation to Transparency International!