Corruption comes in so many forms. The Indian Corruption Study by the Centre for Media Studies has focused only on the corruption experienced by the ‘common man’ in getting services from various service providers i.e. government departments. Citizens are entitled to receive these services, but are not only served poorly but very often have to pay a bribe to the service providers.
Perception of corruption
India Corruption Study – 2005 brings out that the problem of corruption in public services affecting day-to-day needs of citizens is far more serious than it is being realized and calls for all out initiatives on the part of Government as well as civil society. Putting together corruption in all public services involving individual common citizens, will work out significantly high. Until now, this has never been reliably estimated specific to public service.
Three-fourth of citizens think that the level of corruption in public services has been increasing. Hardly 10% think that such corruption is on the decline. There are no significant differences between the States in the perceptions about the extent of corruption or in their experience with such corruption.
One-third to half of the compulsions leading to such petty corruption involving the common man could be addressed and also removed with simple initiatives including introduction of technologies.
One-third of citizens think that “both the officials concerned and the users” of these 11 services know how much to be paid as “extra” to get a job done or attended to.
One-sixth of public think that citizens/users of Government services themselves are responsible for corruption. They believe that there is no active and sustained civil society movement. The efforts are more sporadic, localized and short-lived and have never acquired a character of a larger movement.
One-third of citizens think that corruption is “an obvious fact” where both giver and taker are familiar with modalities, it cannot be addressed only by reforms and by adopting technologies, although they are the first order of initiatives to be taken, unless certain deterrent punitive action on those indulging in corruption are also taken.
Users of various public services across the country in this study have named seven key factors that stand out as responsible for wide spread corruption in the system. These include,
Lack of transparency and accountability in the system.
Lack of an effective corruption reporting mechanisms.
Lack of honesty in officials in the Government
Acceptance of Bribe as a way of life, custom and culture.
Poor economic policies.
Inadequate training and orientation of Government officials.
Corruption Index Fundas
The Corruption Index scores show that need-based services are more corrupt than basic services covered in this survey.
Among the 11 public services covered in the survey, the Police is the most corrupt. An overwhelming 80% of those who had interacted with the department had paid bribe. Further three fourths of those who had interacted with Police department in the last one year are not happy with the services. No wonder, 88% perceive the department to be corrupt.
Judiciary (lower courts) and Land administration are the next most corrupt public services. In Judiciary, of those who paid bribe, 41% had paid to influence judgment, 31% to speed up or delay judgment, 28% to get routine jobs like listing of case or to get copy of documents.
In Land Administration, of those who paid bribe, nearly half had paid for property transaction related issues (valuation of property, payment to registrars etc), 36% paid to get property documents or for mutation and 12% for clearing or settling tax dues.
In Municipal Services, nearly three fourth of those who paid bribe for approval of building plan or modifications (53%) and tax related issues (22%).
Nearly two thirds of people surveyed perceived that the Income Tax department to be corrupt. In spite of this the department is low in the Corruption Index score. This is because the survey was limited to individual assesses who had apparently not encountered much corruption.
Among Basic services the Government Hospitals are the most corrupt public services. The corruption in the department is mostly to do with non-availability of medicines, getting admission into hospitals, consultation with doctors and availing of diagnostic services.
Electricity service is the second most corrupt among Basic public services. Nearly 65% of the corruption involves issues of billing and grant of new connection.
PDS figures lower in the corruption index score because the problems of common man dealing with service is more to do with leakages in the system rather direct monetary corruption.
Water supply services have low corruption score. This could be because water tariff in the most states is not consumption based or it is nominal as well. Therefore, there is limited scope for corruption. However, the corruption in the service is limited to certain areas like release of new connections, availing the service of water tankers and ensuring more supply of water.
Among the states, Kerala was found to be the least corrupt in public services with the next four positions being taken by Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. On the other side of the spectrum, Bihar was found to be the most corrupt state, closely followed by Jammu & Kashmir.
Total monetary value of petty corruption nationally in 11 services is estimated at Rs. 21,068 crore.
More competition: Replacing public monopolies with private monopolies is not likely to lead to significantly lower corruption level. However, there is need to facilitate greater competition in provision of services where ever possible.
Allot funds on outcome basis: Funds allocated to various departments should be linked to outcomes. For example, in schools various indicators like enrollment rates, absence of children, dropout rates, results in board exams, can be used.
Simplify procedures: Need for simplification of procedures, documentation and more education to the users. This will reduce dependence of the users on middlemen and touts.
Performance-based incentive to staff: In order to improve service delivery, there should be fixed and variable component in the staff salary. The variable component should be linked to objective and measurable outcomes.
Users Committees: Merely setting up users committees is not enough. There is need to provide them with certain powers (like report card of teachers, recommend fines for poor service etc) to make departments accountable to them.
Outsource certain services (wherever possible): Public service departments should be purchasing outputs rather inputs whereever possible. For example, in hospitals instead of buying X-ray machines they should buy reports. This will help eliminate several opportunities for corruption like buying of X-ray machines, purchase of spares, procurement of X-ray films, hiring of Radiographers, his transfer etc.
Greater Transparency: Right to Information is one tools which could facilitate greater transparency in public spending.
Use of technology: Public services can use technology to reduce the need for citizens to visit their offices. Various technology enabled features like toll-free lines, websites, or SMS-based application can be developed for better service delivery.
Active Citizen Charter: Citizen Charters should be drafted in consultation with various stake holders like service providers, users etc. The Charters should have realistic and measurable action standards, and not just statement of intent.
Faster grievance redressal mechanism: This survey shows that the confidence of the users on the Grievance redressal mechanism is low. There should also be information on whom to approach in case the grievances are not addressed in the normal course.
Public hearing: There should be periodic public hearings so that service providers are accountable to users.
Satisfaction surveys: Independent surveys should be undertaken at periodic intervals to benchmark, measure and track quality of service.
Public awareness: There is need for generate greater awareness about services, procedures and initiatives.
Independent and decentralized vigilance: The Vigilance department should be given greater power so that it is far more effective. At the same time adequate care must be taken to ensure that the innocents are not victimized.
Reduce “middlemen” role: The role of middle men could be reduced by simplifying procedures and developing standard formats For example standard templates of agreement to sell or power of attorney could be made available to citizens.
Separate regulation & service functions: In most of these departments there is no clear separation between regulatory and service function.
Training of staff: Regular training need to be provided to Staff on various aspects like how to deal with citizens, manage stress and keep pace with advances in technology, so that the staff is more service oriented.
RWAs could be involved as partners in delivery of various services. For example ward committees in Mumbai and involvement of communities in Policing in Punjab have proved useful. These have been dealt in detail in service specific chapters.