India Corruption Survey 2017 - 45% Indians Paid Bribes in Last 12 Months

Executive Summary

1st November 2017, New Delhi: The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, while addressing the nation on 71st Independence Day, made it quite clear that there would be a New India by 2022 - when India marks its 75 years of independence. He said that the New India will be free of corruption which means citizens and businesses will not have to pay bribes to get their work done.

LocalCircles conducted its India Corruption Survey 2017 to ascertain citizen experiences with corruption and bribery in the last 12 months. The results of the survey bring out some interesting insights starting with the fact that corruption is largely a local problem with 84% citizens paying a bribe in last one year for a local issue ranging from municipal, police, local tax compliance, property registration, etc. The survey, which received more than 100,000 votes in total and had participants from over 200 cities responding to 8 questions in the national poll. State level polls were also conducted in 12 states to understand which states according to citizens have made progress in reducing corruption and the states were ranked from 1 to 10 for citizen perception of corruption. Uttar Pradesh turned out to be at the top of the list for reducing corruption in the last 1 year and West Bengal was at the bottom of the list.

A recent Forbes report rated India as the most corrupt country in the Asia-Pacific region, higher than even countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. For a country which is on path of massive development, this piece of statistic could act as a deterrent for many foreign investors. 45% citizens in the first poll said they had paid a bribe in the last 1 year to get their work done.

As to where bribes were paid, 84% respondents said that most of the bribes were paid to the local government and state departments, and most bribes were paid to departments like municipal corporation, police, VAT, property, power, property registration etc.

On the question of actions by State Governments, 51% citizens said their local/state government has not taken any steps in the last 1 year to reduce corruption. Only 9% citizens said that their state had a functional helpline to report corruption issues.

On a question on why did they pay a bribe, 36% citizens said that they were forced and paying a bribe was the only way to get the work done.

On the question of how the bribery transaction was conducted, the highest percentage of citizens indicated that cash is still the primary mode of bribery transactions. In one of the other polls, 30% citizens said that bribery continues even after the local departments were computerised and majority said CCTVs were one of the deterrents that works against corruption.

Below is the summary of 8 national India Corruption Polls:

Poll #1 – 45% citizens paid a bribe in the last 1 year - 9,170 votes

How many times did you have to pay a bribe of any kind in the last 12 months to get work done?

  • 25% - Many Times
  • 15% - Did not have to pay
  • 20% - Once or twice
  • 40% - did not have a need to pay a bribe

Poll #2 – 84% say most bribes paid to local government departments - 9,113 votes

Where did you have the maximum number of bribery transactions in the last 12 months?

  • 84% - Local government, i.e. municipality, police, VAT, power, property registration, tenders
  • 9% - Central government departments, i.e. PF, income tax, service tax, railways etc.
  • 2% - Private sector (Supplier selection, Tender, Payments, Banks)
  • 5% - Other parties (School admissions, NGOs, courts etc.)

Poll #3 – 51% say no steps taken by state govt. to reduce corruption - 9,211 votes

How have been the steps taken by your State Government or Local Administration in the last few years to reduce corruption?

  • 51% - No steps taken at all
  • 7% - Steps were taken which were effective
  • 27% - Some steps taken but mostly ineffective
  • 15% - Steps taken but completely ineffective

Poll #4 – Most bribes paid to police, municipality and for property registration - 8,990 votes

In what area of local governance did you pay the most bribes in the last 12 months?

  • 30% - Traffic and local police
  • 27% - Municipal and civic issues
  • 27% - Property matters
  • 16% - Other areas

Poll #5 – Bribery is the only way to get work done - 8,967 votes

When you did pay a bribe in the last 12 months, what was the reasoning behind it?

  • 36% - It was the only way to get work done
  • 20% - It would have taken a long time and significant efforts without paying a bribe
  • 1% - It would have taken a long time and significant efforts without paying a bribe
  • 43% - Did not pay a bribe at all

Poll #6 – Most bribes are paid in cash - 9,187 votes

For most of the bribes that you had to pay in the last 12 months, what was the most common mode of transaction?

  • 39% - Paid directly and in Cash
  • 1% - Paid indirectly as a gift or favour
  • 21% - Paid through an agent
  • 39% - Did not pay a bribe at all

Poll #7 – Bribery continues despite computerisation - 9,025 votes

In the place where the bribe was paid, how was the working of the office/individual?

  • 9% - Computerised and CCTVs in place
  • 21% - Computerised but no CCTV in place
  • 25% - No computers and no CCTV in place
  • 45% - Did not observe or did not pay a bribe

Poll #8 – Reporting corruption is a tough job - 8,817 votes

Has your State Government, State Anti-Corruption Bureau or State Lokayukta enabled a functioning hotline for common citizens to report corruption?

  • 65% - No
  • 9% - - Yes
  • 26% - Can’t Say

Many citizens on LocalCircles reported that there is no easy way for them to report cases of corruption. They said even if they are able to report a case, no action is ever taken on it. This survey makes it pretty clear that the central government will have to take some harsh steps to reduce the level of corruption in the country and will have to align with the interests of the state government so that ant-corruption policies could be well implemented.

Comparisons – India Corruption Polls 2016 and 2017

Comparison #1

The comparison of the 2016 and 2017 India Corruption Surveys reinforced the fact that corruption in largely a local issue and has not reduced.

  • - 45% citizens reportedly paid bribe once or more in 2017
  • - 43% had reported the same in 2016

Comparison #2

  • - The reported municipal corruption came down from 32% in 2016 to 27% in 2017
  • - Police corruption is almost constant at 30% this year compared to 31% last year.

Comparison #3

  • - Direct and bribery in cash increased from 26% in 2016 to 39% in 2017
  • - The use of agents to pay bribes reduced from 25% last year to 21%this year

State-wise citizen perception index of corruption

As a part of the India Corruption Survey 2017, polls were also conducted in 12 states of India to understand how according to citizens things have changed in the last one year on the corruption front and where some of the bright spots were. These state polls which received more than 35,000 votes also had citizens participating from over 60 cities of India. While there was not a single state where more people believed that corruption had decreased than who believed it had increased, some states did come close. The states were ranked in the order of net decrease in corruption. Uttar Pradesh ranked at the top of the list of states which have been able to reduce corruption with 21% respondents saying that corruption has reduced while 23% saying it has increased. Maharashtra was at number two with 14% saying corruption has reduced and 18% saying it has increased. Delhi was at number 3 with 28% saying it has reduced and 33% saying it has increased. Gujarat was at number four with 19% saying it has reduced and 31% saying it has increased.

Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Haryana were ranked at number 5,6,7 and 8 respectively, showing just marginal progress.

Towards the bottom of the list, Karnataka was at number nine with 5% saying corruption in their state has reduced and 54% saying it has increased. Tamil Nadu stood at the 10th spot with just 2% citizens saying corruption has reduced and 53% saying it has increased. Madhya Pradesh was the next with 14% pointing towards reduction and 71% pointing towards an increase. West Bengal was the worst performing state with just 3% citizens saying corruption in their state has reduced compared to 71% who said it has actually increased.

In various structured discussions, citizens also suggested ways in which corruption in states can be reduced. These suggestions included hand-picking dedicated and honest officers and deputed in the known corrupt areas, human intervention to be minimised and e-governance to be introduced in all state government departments, reducing the discretion of the officers, especially in the revenue/sates tax/excise departments, like passport office more private players should be involved in improving government processes and judgement in corruption related cases should be fast tracked.

Details of the state-wise polls

Corruption Survey 2017 in Andhra Pradesh

Corruption Survey 2017 in Delhi

Corruption Survey 2017 in Gujarat

Corruption Survey 2017 in Haryana

Corruption Survey 2017 in Karnataka

Corruption Survey 2017 in Madhya Pradesh

Corruption Survey 2017 in Maharashtra

Corruption Survey 2017 in Punjab

Corruption Survey 2017 in Tamil Nadu

Corruption Survey 2017 in Telangana

Corruption Survey 2017 in Uttar Pradesh

Corruption Survey 2017 in West Bengal

In order to enable citizens to stand up against corruption, LocalCircles in collaboration with Transparency International launched Together Against Corruption Online Community on LocalCircles in 2015, which now has more than 65,000 active members and is the largest community in India for this cause. To join this community, please log on to:

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