There are graft indexes, and then there are the latest findings from the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) on corruption perception. As per a Times of India report, CMS’s survey that pooled responses from 3,000 individuals across the country found that more than half felt corruption fell during the demonetisation phase, from November to December.
This may bring some relief to the Modi government that is yet to clearly state how much of an impact demonetisation had on black money. The study found that the total bribe paid by households across 20 states and 10 public services in 2016, at `6,350 crore, had fallen to under a third of the `20,500 crore paid in 2005. What is interesting, as far as perceptions of corruption are concerned, is that the most significant improvement has been in the states that were known most for the abject levels of graft. For instance, Bihar, Odisha and Chhattisgarh have shown remarkable fall in graft levels, with Chhattisgarh the third least corrupt state, after Himachal Pradesh and Kerala. Surprisingly, the richer Southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka figure prominently in the list of the most-corrupt. Karnataka, in fact, is perceived to be the most corrupt.
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Although perception of graft may have undergone a sea-change, India fares poorly in terms of reporting of cases and trials in corruption. A look at the data from National Crime Records Bureau shows that there was only a 5% increase in cases reported under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and related sections of the Indian Penal Code. More important, the number of cases reported in itself was very low at 5,250.
Even in terms of trials, there were 40,895 people under trial for related offences across the country. Besides, acquittals in such cases (1,834) numbered twice that of convictions. The country, thus, has a long way to go in tackling corruption. More so, when the country is still ranked 76 out of 189 countries in the corruption perception index of Transparency International.