India has maintained its score of 39 out of 100 on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2023, ranking 93rd among 180 countries and territories, according to a report by Transparency International. The CPI measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption based on the opinions of experts and business people.
India’s Score and Rank Fluctuate Over the Years
India’s score and rank on the CPI have fluctuated over the years, showing no significant improvement or decline in its performance. In 2022, India scored 40 and ranked 85th, while in 2021, it scored 38 and ranked 86th. In 2020, it scored 41 and ranked 80th, while in 2019, it scored 41 and ranked 78th.
The report said that India’s score fluctuations are small enough that no firm conclusions can be drawn on any meaningful change. However, it also noted that India faces challenges in curbing corruption, especially in the context of the upcoming elections, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the shrinking civic space.
India Lags Behind Its Neighbors and Peers
India’s score of 39 places it below the global average of 43 and the Asia Pacific average of 45. It also lags behind many of its neighbors and peers in the region, such as Bhutan (67), Singapore (83), Taiwan (65), South Korea (61), Malaysia (51), Sri Lanka (38), Nepal (33), Pakistan (31), Bangladesh (26), and Afghanistan (19).
The report said that the Asia Pacific region, which faces a big 2024 election year, has shown little to no progress in tackling corruption. It said that the region needs to strengthen its anti-corruption frameworks, ensure the independence and accountability of public institutions, protect the rights and freedoms of civil society and the media, and foster a culture of integrity and transparency.
India’s Strengths and Weaknesses in Fighting Corruption
The report highlighted some of the strengths and weaknesses of India’s anti-corruption efforts, based on various sources and indicators. Some of the strengths include:
- The enactment of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, which established an ombudsman to investigate and prosecute corruption cases involving public officials.
- The implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2005, which empowered citizens to access information from public authorities and promote transparency and accountability.
- The adoption of the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2018, which widened the definition of corruption, increased the penalties for offenders, and introduced provisions for the protection of whistleblowers.
Some of the weaknesses include:
- The low conviction rate of corruption cases, which indicates the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the judicial system and the lack of political will to prosecute high-profile offenders.
- The harassment and intimidation of anti-corruption activists, journalists, and civil society organizations, which undermines the freedom of expression and the right to dissent.
- The prevalence of bribery and nepotism in the public sector, which erodes the trust and confidence of the citizens and the business community.
India’s Recommendations and Opportunities for Reform
The report suggested some recommendations and opportunities for India to improve its performance on the CPI and combat corruption more effectively. Some of the recommendations include:
- Strengthening the institutional and operational capacity of the Lokpal and the Lokayuktas, and ensuring their autonomy and accountability.
- Enhancing the enforcement of the anti-corruption laws and regulations, and ensuring the swift and fair prosecution of corruption cases.
- Expanding the scope and coverage of the Right to Information Act, and ensuring its effective implementation and compliance.
- Protecting and empowering the anti-corruption activists, journalists, and civil society organizations, and ensuring their safety and security.
- Promoting a culture of integrity and ethics in the public sector, and ensuring the participation and engagement of the citizens and the business community.
The report also identified some opportunities for India to leverage its anti-corruption potential, such as:
- The use of digital technologies and innovations, such as e-governance, biometric identification, and blockchain, to enhance the efficiency and transparency of public services and transactions.
- The adoption of best practices and standards, such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the Open Government Partnership, and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, to improve the governance and accountability of public institutions and resources.
- The collaboration and cooperation with regional and international partners, such as the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and the G20, to share experiences and expertise, and to support and monitor the anti-corruption reforms.