India leads global corruption index

India, despite all efforts by the Narendra Modi government, in recent times, remains the most corrupt nation in Asia, says a report published by the global accountability organization, Transparency International.

India leads the pack with a corruption level of 69 per cent while Vietnam, with 65 per cent corruption is in the second spot with Thailand, Pakistan, and Myanmar coming in the third, fourth, and fifth spots.

Transparency International, a Berlin based NGO working against corruption, spoke to nearly 22,000 people across 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific to understand the levels of corruption in the region.

While India remains the most corrupt country in this region, with 69 per cent bribery rates, Japan came out as the least corrupt nation, with a 0.2 per cent bribery rate, the report said.

Shockingly, the number of times bribes were demanded for accessing public education and healthcare facilities is also very high in India, the report shows.

Around 58 per cent and 59 per cent bribery rates were seen in education and healthcare sectors in India respectively.

Noticeably, India was found to be more corrupt than Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan and Myanmar in the report. Vietnam turned out to be the second-most corrupt country with 65 per cent bribery rates. Thailand showed 41 per cent bribery rates whereas Pakistan had 40 per cent bribery rates.

People in India are hopeful, though, that the government is working in the right direction to curb corruption.

The report by Transparency International showed that 51 per cent Indians believe that the government is doing well in keeping a check on corruption.

Comparatively, only 45 per cent people in neighbouring Pakistan think that their government is effective in bringing down corruption.

Asia is one of the regions where malpractices and financial breaches are the major reasons why there is high power distance relationship between the public officers and the public.

Corruption in government institutions is one of the major reasons that halt the progress of developing nations toward achieving their full economic potential on a par with developed countries.

The island city-state of Singapore was the only Asian state to make the top ten of least corrupt countries. The top 10 ranked nations perceived to be the least corrupt are: Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Singapore, Netherlands, Canada and Germany

Here are the five most corrupt countries in Asia by bribery rates, according to Transparency International;

Myanmar: 40% bribery rate

Despite a 2013 Anti-Corruption Law, about half of the respondents believe that most or all police are corrupt, and 40% believe the judiciary is corrupt. But things might be getting better—at least in the eyes of the people. Less than a fourth believe corruption has increased over the last year.

Pakistan: 40% bribery rate

In Pakistan, about three-fourths of respondents perceive most or all of the police to be corrupt. Of the people who encountered either the police or the courts, nearly 7 in 10 had to pay a bribe. Sadly, people don’t feel things can change—only a third think ordinary people can make a difference.

Thailand: 41% bribery rate

Thailand has struggled with corruption charges at all levels—even government officials—leading the current ruling military junta to tighten the Anti-Corruption Act in 2015. But the Thai people seem optimistic. Just 14% feel corruption had increased in last 12 months, and nearly 72% think the government is handling the fight against corruption fairly or very well.

Vietnam: 65% bribery rate

Vietnamese view corruption as endemic. Of all 16 countries surveyed, people in Vietnam (and Malaysia) were the most negative about the situation in their country. About 60% felt their government is doing a poor job of combatting corruption.

India: 69% bribery rate

In five of the six public services—schools, hospitals, ID documents, police, and utility services—more than half the respondents have had to pay a bribe. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fight against corruption has made a mark: 53% of the people think he is going it fairly or very well. And it has led to people feeling empowered, as 63% believe ordinary people can make a difference.


A regional analysis of corruption


Afghanistan has moved up four points in its score (15 out of 100). While it remains one of the 10 very corrupt countries on the index, its score is nearly the double from 2013 (8 out of 100).

The National Unity Government has made over 50 commitments to address corruption, promising change to the people of Afghanistan.

Timor-Leste, Laos and Myanmar continued to improve their scores in 2016. In Myanmar, the beginning of the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) government in March 2016, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, brought much hope for change with the return to civilian rule. The NLD proposed action to reduce corruption, which is a good step towards committing to fighting corruption. However, progress has been overshadowed by the deadly violence in Rahkine State.

Cambodia, for the second year in a row, is the most corrupt South East Asian country on the list, with a score of 21. As space for civil society continues to be extremely restricted, this is not surprising.

Thailand dropped to 35 in its score this year, reinforcing the link between perceived corruption and political turmoil. Government repression, lack of independent oversight, and the deterioration of rights eroded public confidence in the country.

China increased by 3 points but remains at the poor score of 40 out of 100. In recent years, China has focused its anti-corruption efforts on catching “tigers and flies” – corrupt public officials big and small. This cannot come at the expense of transparency and independent oversight. Efforts to fight corruption must include a holistic approach involving civil society as well as the private sector.

Australia remains outside the top 10 countries on the index for the third consecutive year. Australia’s performance is marred by the recent foreign bribery scandals and threats to independent institutions.

India’s ongoing poor performance with a score of 40 reiterates the state’s inability to effectively deal with petty corruption as well as large-scale corruption scandals. The impact of corruption on poverty, illiteracy and police brutality shows that not only the economy is growing – but also inequality.

Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte’s dramatic rise to power in the Philippines made extensive use of anti-corruption rhetoric. Yet, the impact of death squads, attacks on media and violent intimidation to the detriment of democracy and democratic institutions is yet to be seen in 2017.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak has long been embroiled in the 1MBD corruption scandal with an unexplainable US$700 million in his personal bank account, contributing to the country's lacklustre score of 49 out of 100. The Prime Minister’s deficient response, and what role this will play in upcoming elections, is something to watch in 2017.

South Korea was rocked by corruption scandals in 2016. President Park Guen-hye was impeached by Parliament for corruption with alleged involvement of almost every major Korean corporation. This suggests that corruption at the highest levels of government and business is a critical issue in 2017 and their slight 3-point drop to 53 out of 100 may be indicative of perceptions to come.

Leave a comment