Here comes the bribe

A Goan is compelled to pay a Rs 70,000 bribe for permission to rebuild his family home in Margao after he is told, "Can't be done, sir, not until..." For refusing to pay off a municipal employee, a 45-year old man in Ahmedabad is kept waiting a year to get his birth certificate. A New Delhi resident buckles and palms a 100-rupee note to a policeman accusing him of illegally operating his car as a cab while driving a foreigner friend to Agra.

IPaidABribe.com registers an astonishing assortment of first person anecdotes detailing bribe-giving across India. From Agartala to Vijayawada, it is a first-of-its-kind chronicle of you-and-me Indians' brush with an array of corrupt government officials. By graphically detailing and recording the universality of this Indian problem, IPaidABribe wants to analyse patterns, change processes and tackle corruption.

Launched six weeks ago, IPaidABribe (IPAB) is already making waves on the internet. It was set up by the Bangalore-based Janaagraha, a non-profit that works to change the quality of life in urban India by working with both citizens and governments. In the short time since its launch, thousands of Indians have gone online to record their experiences under a laundry-list of headers: I paid a bribe, I didn't pay a bribe, I didn't have to pay a bribe, I don't want to pay a bribe.

On its website, IPAB asserts that it wants citizens to "uncover the market price of corruption" and illustrates it with a graphic of a corporate employee bribing a policeman with his official entitlement of Sodexho food coupons. The numbers, types, locations, frequencies and value of bribes paid provide a snapshot of the extent of corruption in different cities. Janaagraha then uses them to argue for improved governance systems, tighter law enforcement and stricter regulation, thus reducing the scope of corruption.

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