Assam has earned the dubious distinction of being the most corrupt State in the country, on the basis of corruption in 11 vital services. Corruption level was alarming in four other States, as well. The latest India Corruption Study 2007 conducted jointly by Transparency International and Centre for Media Study and released by Vice President Hamid Ansari on Saturday is embarrassing news for Assam, where corruption level was described as ‘alarming’. The four States, which follow Assam include Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
The grouping of States on corruption reflects position of States in the context of eleven services. The eleven services included ‘basic services’ like PDS, hospital service, school education, electricity and water supply services and ‘need -based services’, like land records, registration, housing service, forest, NREGS, banking service and police service (traffic and crime)). The study does not include operational irregularities in the system and even corruption that does not involve citizens directly.
The study covered all 31 States and Union Territories and is focused on the poorest and rural areas. It included below the poverty line people (BPL) in both rural areas and urban slums.
The level of corruption in all the 11services studied in Assam and Madhya Pradesh was alarming. In Delhi and West Bengal, for example, corruption level was moderate in most services surveyed. Among smaller States of the north-east, like Nagaland and Goa, corruption level was alarming, whereas in Meghalaya and Sikkim, it was very high. In Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur the level was high, while in Tripura and Mizoram it was found to be moderate.
The total bribe amount involved in a year in BPL households availing the eleven services is estimated at Rs 8,830 crore. Based on the incidence of bribe paid by sample BPL households, an estimate is made for the total amount paid as bribe by BPL households in the country during the last one-year in the eleven services.
School education (up to class XII and government schools) among the 11 services studied stands last in the ranking meaning the level of corruption is the lowest among all. While police service stood number one. The land records and registration and house and plot, which are specially tailored for BPL households, stand at two and three respectively in the rank.
The level and extent of corruption in police service was high in all States, as if it is universal – but the ranks of other services show variations across the States. Given the nature of need-based services, which are monopolistic or involve asset creation or volume, these services ranked high on corruption as compared to basic services.
Releasing the report, the Vice president said the report brings to light the negative impact of competitive politics on targeted schemes aimed at the poor. It has reported instances of BPL, SC/ST and other vulnerable households of being told by political activists of a linkage between benefits and electoral preferences.
“This, to the extent it is true, amounts to political corruption in its damaging form since it undermines the very institutions of democracy at all levels. A national consensus at its avoidance is thus imperative,” he opined.