Hyderabad: India has fallen two notches in the Corruption Perception Index-2017, compiled by Berlin-based Transparency International (TI). From being ranked 79th in 2016, India is now ranked 81 of 100 countries deemed as being the most corrupt. The analysis shows the country has ‘high variance’ in public sector corruption. The slip by two positions is a sign of there being no improvement. The report says India is among the ‘worst offenders’ in respect to graft and press freedom.
Some 180 countries are ranked on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean), based on their perceived levels of corruption. India’s score remains 40 (same as 2016), while it was 38 in 2015 and 36 in 2013. It should be noted that the analysis was done before the multi-crore Punjab National Bank fraud and the inter-governmental weapons purchase agreement with France, dubbed the Rafale deal scam, broke. India would drop further down the rankings if these two major frauds were taken into consideration.
The report concludes that improvement will only be made if there is a strong political will for change and if a comprehensive strategy is adopted. Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, former Andhra Pradesh director general of police Swaranjit Sen, said, “The assessment of transparency seems to be accurate, and perhaps the opinion would have been worse if they had analysed corruption deep at the grass root level. I find that police and bureaucrats are selling themselves to their political bosses. The government seems to be drunk on numbers they have got in Parliament and is busy just expressing themselves without considering what happens at the public level.”
Another former top cop and ex-commissioner of police, Hyderabad, M.V. Krishna Rao, was critical of the amendment to the FCRA. “By amending the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act one does not even have to declare if their coffers receive 100 crore from overseas. If a foreign company wants to bribe an Indian company, it can directly deposit the money in the Indian company’s bank account and needs no RBI permission.” Mr Krishna Rao said political corruption is linked to elections.
“After 1947-66, no genuine politician has been elected. To rise to power one needs to collude, conspire and cooperate with unethical practices to get funds and once the individual seizes power, he has to reap money, which is done through revenue generating departments directly linked to the common man. Krishna Sagar Rao, BJP spokesperson, defends the government by throwing doubts on the veracity of the Transparency International report and flogging the dead horse of demonetisation. “A third party assessment’s credibility is challengeable. The measure and methods used to ascertain graft is debatable. We do accept that institutionalised corruption is prevalent, but it should be noted that the BJP has not ruled India for a long time as much as the Congress has.
High graft linked to scribes’ death
The report on corruption by Transparency International says that corrupt countries provide the least protection to the press and to non-government organisations that expose corruption. Countries with high corruption reported the most deaths of journalists in the course of their work. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), for the years 2014-2015, 142 attacks against journalists were registered nationwide, of which 114 were reported in 2014 and 28 in 2015.
As many as 70 journalists were killed in India over 24 years up to 2016, according to the Committee To Protect Journalists, a non-profit organisation. Minister of state for home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said in Parliament that 73 people were arrested for the 142 attacks against journalists. “Cases were registered for ‘grievous hurt’ under sections 325, 326, 326A & 326B of the IPC,” the minister said.
Mr Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, founder of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information said the press is not “independent to report on corruption in this present system. Even people who chase departments for information on revenue and corruption are attacked, a few leading to deaths. Essentially, the press is no longer free. The attacks are a result of the existence of brave journalists but who have little or close to no protection....