The fact about corruption

We lack the wherewithal to catch and punish the corrupt

Many of us believe that corruption is the biggest problem in India and if we could punish the corrupt by catching them, it would solve a lot of our problems. I would like to take a look at some of the root causes of corruption in India. The basic cause is that the government is not designed for accountability and delivering services to its citizens. This is a larger problem, which can be resolved if adequa-te effort is made to streamline administrative processes.

There is some truth in the idea that we lack the wherewithal to catch the corrupt. The anti-corruption bureau (ACB) in Maharashtra registered 654 cases during 2011. The instances of corruption each day must be in the thousands, and if only 654 cases are registered in a year by the ACB, it is only tokenism. There is a need to find a way of raising this figure by at least 20 times, if the ACB is to have any meaningful impact.

Similarly, a look at the performance of the Lokayukta in Maharashtra shows that, with a staff of over 80 people, it received 11,153 allegations during the 25-year period between 1981 and 2006, and could find only 57 instances where it recommended any action by the government. If this is the performance of two of our institutions in one state, can they have any impact on corruption?

However, I would submit that there is another, more fundamental cause of corruption: Our inability to punish the few corrupt persons our investigative agencies identify. To illustrate, I am presenting data published in the Indian Police Journal in April-June 2010. A study was done of the performance of an anti-corruption branch of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for the period 1980-84 (mean year 1982) in the year 2008, that is, after 26 years. I would first like to present the raw data.

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