Discussions in living room to public places to Parliament in 2011-2012 have been all about corruption. The countries that have discussed this the most in the recent past have been China and India. Both have been witness to rampant corruption in various Government machineries. India also saw an outpouring of public anger in the form of countrywide protests against increasing disclosure of corruption under the current government. Though one must note that corruption has been a chronic problem and not a recent phenomenon, only the scale has got bigger with time.
Comparison of Top 10 and Bottom 10 Countries:
Transparency International (TPI) for many years now has tried to portray status of Corruption in each country and have diligently worked on conducting surveys and rating them (Corruption Perception Index). It has gained wider acceptance in political and business communities alike. Infact ratings can influence investor sentiment and divert the foreign investments to other better rated destinations. I have used the TPI for analysis. I chose the top 10 best performing countries and bottom 10 worst performing countries with respect to corruption. In addition to the table prepared [ATTACHED] on the TPI data I chose other factors that I intuitively thought influenced corruption, and later on verified them for relevance through various research papers available for public consumption.Corruption often is mistaken as the root cause of all evils; a deeper observation would reveal that there are other evils that become the root cause for corruption. Also corruption has a cause-effect and effect – cause relationship with many factors, for example Economic growth. High corruption could cause lower growth and yet again high economic growth could lead to lower corruption. The objective of my effort was to come out with suggestions from an economic view point that could help devise methods of reducing corruption. Emergent points:
- Average Population of the top 10 best performing nations is far lesser than 10 worst performing nations
- GDP Per Capita of the top 10 way higher than that of Bottom 10
- Interestingly the Debt per Capita of top 10 is way higher than the Debt per capita in the bottom 10
- The Top 10 have a very high Debt vs GDP ratio
- Top 10 countries have Very high level of education compared to Bottom 10
- Top 10 have very less ethnic or cultural diversity compared to the bottom 10
- Top 10 also have very low level of inflation compared to the bottom 10
Where does India stand:
Now these very factors could be used for comparison of similar data from India and we could easily figure out whether India would be among the least or highly corrupt nations.
- 2nd Highest Population in the world
- Low GDP per capita
- Low Debt per capita
- Medium education index
- High Ethnic fractionalization
- High cultural diversity
- High Inflation
All the factors that look closer to the bottom 10 nations rather than the top 10 and hence India is very corruption prone. It is root causes like these, am sure there are more, that I think need to be addressed and it should help curb corruption. Definitely steps in that direction have great chance of resolving the chronic problem than any amount of rhetoric used till date.
Possible Solutions in the Indian context:
As a start, there are obvious lessons that emerge from the above analysis that could be used to curb the menace of corruption. There is a definite need to encourage people to adapt family planning methods and assist in slowing the rate of population growth.A high and growing GDP with reducing population would automatically mean an increasing GDP per capita. A growing GDP would increase India’s appetite and capacity to digest higher external debt, ofcourse needless to say that inflation has to be kept under control too. However there is a tremendous need to drastically improve literacy levels among the masses and promote education at all levels.
One factor that will remain with us always is our cultural and ethnic diversity. Yet against all speculation made India has not only continued to be a vibrant democracy, it also managed to grow at a miraculous rates in the past two decades. If our ethnic and cultural diversity could be managed better our growth could be more inclusive and faster. This cannot be achieved without an conscious effort to construct an all inclusive Indian Identity.
Corruption has this strange cause-effect and effect-cause relationship with many parameters. Often corruption is viewed as a cause and indicated to be behind the present state of affairs in the country. However I am making an attempt, as done by many, to view Corruption as an effect of many other social indicators/parameters that I think largely contribute to perpetrating the malice, these is definitely not an exhaustive list of parameters. Interestingly only about 4 of the nations in the Top 10 list of least corrupt countries have an Ombudsmen such as what is being proposed in India. Sweden/Finland/New Zealand/Singapore have such a body in various forms. Hence it cannot be said with any amount of assurance that having such an Ombudsman is the right way to go, however having it along with focus on other parameters indicated above would definitely aid in accelerating the journey towards the objective. As long as the incentive for corrupt practices are not removed as long as the parameters that I refer to are not improved, corruption would be tough to route out.