Graft Contagion: India slips in ranks in the new corruption perception index

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January 29, 2021 6:10 AM

With the World Bank and UN projecting a rise in extreme poverty, governments worldwide will have to rely more on direct support to millions, involving billions of dollars

The last thing governments want during these dire times is the erosion of faith in the political class.

Of the many unforeseen consequences of the pandemic, a deeply troubling one is the rise in graft across nations—this was highlighted by the global graft-tracker, Transparency International. India has slid four places, to 86 out of 100 countries, on the list of transparent nations, called the Corruption Perception Index. Last year, it had fallen two places, to 80. The current ranking is India’s worst showing since 2014. This year’s poor performance is also significant because till 2019, the slippage in the country’s ranking was due to other countries improving their performance. This year, the country has slipped in terms of score (on an index of 100, with 100 representing the cleanest), too; it scored 40 on the index, while the global average is 43.

The other big takeaway from the rankings this year, as Bloomberg points out, is the rise in Covid-related corruption. Bloomberg highlights that countries have performed worse on this count, with widespread corruption as governments tried to dole out cash to support their citizenry through the pandemic-related lockdowns and loss of employment/income.

One example is the US’s $1 trillion package. The failure to manage this cleanly led to the US slipping in the latest index. With countries focussed on vaccine distribution and limited supply of vaccines, there can be a further rise in corruption if countries don’t monitor the distribution properly. Use of technology can be one way to monitor; however, it comes with its own challenges, as evident in the last-mile fraud in the Jharkhand scholarship scam.

Countries will need to course-correct. With the World Bank and UN projecting a rise in extreme poverty, governments worldwide will have to rely more on direct support to millions, involving billions of dollars. If this leads to a rise in corruption, inequality and resentment against the ruling class will increase. The last thing governments want during these dire times is the erosion of faith in the political class.

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