The CMS report says that around 43 per cent of households in 20 states feel that level of corruption in public services has increased.

corruption in india, india corruption, effect of demonetisation on corruption, narendra modi corruption, most corrupt state in india, least corrupt state in india, why indians pay bribe, why india is corruptThere has been a considerable dip in corruption in India since 2015, but it continues. (Representative image)

Residents of 20 states paid approximately Rs 6,350 crore as bribe to access public services, according to a survey by Delhi-based thinktank Centre For Media Studies (CMS). This number may surprise you but it is not too much when compared to the amount Indians paid as bribe in 2005.

According to CMS survey, people paid a whopping Rs 20,500 crore in 2005 to bribe officials. This clearly shows that there has been a considerable decline in corruption in India, but it is not stopping completely even as the Centre and state governments keep on announcing measures to tackle corruption on a regular basis.

The CMS-India Corruption Study 2017 was carried out in 20 states (including rural and urban areas) between October-November 2016. An additional telephonic “sub-sample survey” to capture perception of households visited earlier on the effect of demonetization on the level of corruption in public services was conducted in January 2017.

The survey has some interesting findings. For instance, there has been a dip in perception about corruption in public services over the years. The report says that around 43 per cent of households in 20 states feel that level of corruption in public services has increased. However, this number could be a good news as in a 2005 survey carried out by the CMS,  73 per cent households had perceived an increase in corruption level.

In the foreword of the survey report, Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy distinguishes between two types of corruption affecting India: a) Big-ticket corruption, b) Small-ticket corruption.

According to Debroy, the big-ticket corruption has an “intricate link” with electoral reforms and electoral funding. He writes: “Most big-ticket kind of corruption is associated with allocation of natural resources and land conversion, the licensing regime having become less important.”

However, Debroy says, most of the citizens suffer from “small-ticket kind of corruption”, which is associated with the delivery of public services. The numbers revealed by the survey also authenticate Debroy’s theory.

According to the survey, almost all households, across 20 states, who were asked to pay bribe by public servants, had no option but to pay bribe to avail the service. And they paid an amount as low as Rs 20 for services like getting ration in PDS shops or admission form in a government school and even an amount as high as Rs 50,000 for admission in school or for early hearing in a court. The average amount paid by a household in a year in India is around Rs 1,840.

The highest amount (Rs 50,000) among services paid in a school ‘for admission’, was in Maharashtra, while the least amount paid was Rs 10 to take a loan application form in Jharkhand and Rs 20 to get school admission form in Karnataka.

One reason because of which the practice of paying bribe refuses to die is that people’s dependence on public services is very high despite the presence of private players.

According to the survey, the key players for the existence of corruption in public services are government officials (42 per cent) and politicians (35 per cent). This trend was similar across all states. However, in states like Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and J&K, around 25 per cent of respondents blamed the citizens for the prevalence of corruption in public services.

The states which have emerged as the “most corrupt” in the survey are Karnataka (77 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (74 per cent), Tamil Nadu (68 per cent), Maharashtra (57 per cent), J&K (44 per cent), Punjab (42 per cent) and Gujarat (37 per cent). The least corrupt states are Himachal Pradesh (3 per cent), Kerala (4 per cent) and Chhattisgarh (13 per cent).

In terms of corruption in public services, Odisha (68 per cent) topped the chart, followed by Karnataka (65 per cent), Jharkhand (59 per cent), Bihar (59 per cent) and Chhattisgarh (56 per cent) as more than half of the respondents in these states claimed an “increase in level of corruption in public services during the last one year.”

The survey also found that demonetisation decreased corruption level between November-January period. More than half of the respondents in January felt that the “level of corruption decreased during this period while 12 per cent opined that it had rather increased during this period. 21 per cent felt it had remained same and around 11 per cent did not hold any opinion.

According to the survey, perception about the increase in the level of corruption in a particular public service during the last one year was highest in the police (32 per cent), PDS (29 per cent), Electricity (27 per cent) and Judicial services (26 per cent).

“The subtle differences in the attitude to corruption in public affairs and the emerging differences among the states are the most interesting aspect of this report … The key difference is that the government has initiated specific steps like demonetization and GST which are bound to have significant impact on the corruption scene in the country,” former Central Vigilance Commissioner, N Vittal wrote in the foreword of the survey report.