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Article written

  • on 11.03.2010
  • at 12:14 PM
  • by uvach

Why do we need to measure Corruption? 10


While searching for information on the scale of Corruption in India, one is struck by the amazing dearth of any credible information.

Corruption Meter Graphics

There are a whole host of scales and indexes for everything under the sun including the esoteric Business Confidence index, Human Development index, Happiness index to the more mundane such as Inflation, GDP, Government Approval ratings etc.
But for an all important issue like Corruption, the sole measure that exists is the Corruption Perception index maintained by an international NGO, Transparency International. While the index has done immense service to the anti-corruption cause, it is primarily meant for a broad level comparison among countries and is based on perception rather than actual ground level data. Its utility in managing our country’s internal affairs is limited. Apart from that, there are no meaningful studies on the geographical spread of Corruption, nor any information on its time line trends, no best practices, not even a common place commission of inquiry on the spread of Corruption.

Overall there are no credible estimates of the quantum or cost of corruption in India. This has led to a situation where a feeble improvement on the Corruption Perception Index off late has hidden an astounding growth in the quantum of Corruption as evident from recent disclosures – Koda scam, I.A.S. raids, 300 Crorepati babus. The monetary estimates of Corruption normally vary from billions of dollars annually to trillions of dollars in accumulated figures. The figures are either based on very broad rules of thumb or are completely a figment of one’s imagination. The higher the estimate, the higher is the air of invincibility around it. Most of these figures have a hollow ring to them and are unable to mobilize public opinion to force the hands of the government. We continue to live in a hazy daze where everyone knows that Corruption exists but there is no official confirmation of the same. It allows the government to put their blinkers on and go about their work ignoring the existence of Corruption completely while continuing to bring out new schemes & policies that benefit the intermediaries more than their intended recipients. There is another school of thought that believes that growth in economy will itself deal with Corruption, so we may choose to ignore it till such time we are riding the growth tiger. In the process however, Corruption has grown stronger and stronger. Most importantly, it has led to a situation where Corruption has become a low risk, high return game and is feeding on itself to grow monstrously.

Corruption Heat Chart Graphics

There are strong reasons for developing new metrics to measure Corruption despite its underlying difficulties. Some of them are enumerated below:

1. Primary reason for measuring Corruption is that measurement is the first step towards a cure. We need to measure something to be able control it.

2. The monstrous growth in Corruption can only be dented by a committed public opinion. Such a public opinion can only be built around a systematic measure of Corruption.

3. Behind the facade of anti-corruption, there is a growing tolerance for corruption in our society. It is undesirable, everyone says, but inevitable. Inevitability blunts public opposition. The inevitability stems largely from our inability to measure and track Corruption.

4. The smokescreen of impossibility of measuring Corruption because it is secret is often used to prevent probing on this front. However secrecy hasn’t stopped us from probing several other clandestine issues such as Sexual preferences & Political inclinations( Election Surveys, Exit Polls).

5. Corruption has always been treated as aberration of individuals who need to be exposed & punished. Hence very little effort has been made to check institutionalized Corruption which needs measurement on an ongoing basis.

6. Most of our present knowledge of Corruption levels is perception based. Even those perceptions are limited and shaped by new disclosures in scams. We have never pro actively sought to measure Corruption, which alone can deal with the fast mutating problem.

We have come a very long way from a Rs. 62 crore Bofors scam which shook the Central Government and led to a Prime Minister loosing election, to a Rs. 4,000 crore Koda scam where another tainted politician was sworn in as state Chief Minister soon after the scam came to light. How much farther do we need to travel before we act? The time to act is now!!

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There are 10 comments for this post

  1. Team Nishan says:

    Amazing post. Ever so true and something that we are trying to achieve here at Nishan by taking public polls and surveys.

  2. You are very right in stating that it is very difficult to measure corruption. Besides the Corruption Perceptions Index, Transparency International has also developed a public opinion survey, the Global Corruption Barometer. Have a look at the results: http://www.transparency.org/gcb

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by TeamNishan: Excellent points made here @Nobribe Why do we need to measure Corruption? http://bit.ly/dbdTPT

  4. Himanshu says:

    Initially we ignored corruption as a rare thing. But we are paying a small price for that ignorance. The root cause of all our national problems is Corruption.
    We need to take a leaf out of Singapore’s success story where corruption and the corrupt were duely punished and banished.


  5. […] Go here to read the rest: New Metrics required for measuring Corruption | Corruption Free … […]

  6. S.R.Ayyangar says:

    The corruption measurement by any means can only be of statistical purpose and would be buried in some book gathering dust. I don’t agree with those who say that illiteracy and poverty is the cause of corruption.Contrarily, the rich and super rich are topping the list of corrupts.

  7. avi raina! says:

    i don’t understand why we all are busy here telling each other about what to do for abolishing corruption???we all know it well…but still we are not doing anything becoz it makes very little effect to our pockets..but its a great headache for middle class….i.e. the requirement is to innovate the idea that how can the law of anti-corruption be made understood to the the most suffering people.

  8. uvach says:

    @Avi – its fashionable to blame it all on the middle class mentality, but eventually they are the ones who bring about change. Innovation will not come by chanting innovation. It will happen when all of us do our bit.

  9. avi raina! says:

    @uvach-you r not clear with my point…..in simple words i am saying that there should be something like which can make people aware about the ways of protesting against corruption!!

  10. John Gray says:

    This post tells truth about the corruption in India.
    In every field there is corruption how can we solve our problem.Some one has to solve in or every citizen needs to look into it.

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