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par Graham PEEBLES
Since Independence (1947) endemic corruption has been part and parcel of daily life in India. The scale of corruption is immense, the cost to the country staggering ; according to Global Financial Integrity (GFI), illicit financial flows since 2007 have averaged 52 million $ US. A staggering “$123 billion was lost in the last decade”, a huge sum, which they state is “thirty times the amount New Delhi spent on social services like healthcare and education last year”.
Corruption divides broadly into two distinct areas : millions of US $ political/corporate scams, involving government ministers, members of parliament and their business buddies ; and what we might call "domestic bribery". Forced into criminality by a system of governance built on dishonesty, exploitation and greed, citizens throughout the country –rich and poor– bribe officials to avoid problems with state authorities, speed up applications for permits, licenses and utilities, and secure entitled services. Over 75 % of slum dwellers e.g. report, “having paid a bribe to secure basic necessities such as kerosene or medical care”. Nobody in the country trusts politicians, and figures gathered by Transparency International (TI) an NGO that tracks corruption, places the police and the judiciary second and third as the most corrupt bodies in the country. In fact there are no institutions, including health, education and national NGOs (often little more than a front for criminality and exploitation) that are perceived to be corruption free, and according to 92 % of Indians it’s getting worse.
Major fraud or petty backhanders, the process of corruption is essentially the same, albeit more or less intricate : need a driving licence, or land to build on ; looking to mine coal, start a small business, sell some helicopters, light up your home or have sanitation plumbed in for your family : an envelope stuffed with rupees or shares in the business is the most persuasive language of facilitation, swiftly cutting through reams of bureaucratic red tape. Transparency International records that “54 % of Indians say they paid a bribe last year” (the worldwide average is 39 %). Two-thirds of people polled admitting bribing police, 63 % paid bribes for Land services (buying, selling, renting and inheriting property), over half confessed to bribing tax officials, 45 % to the judiciary. And a quarter paid bribes to secure medical treatment and education for their children ; constitutional and human rights, only available through bribery –and this in the world’s "largest democracy", a hollow claim of political hyperbole.