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Since 2005, India has been ranking around the middle (90 out of 180) of Transparency International's league table of country perception of corruption by the people, including investors, businessmen, etc. And the country isn’t making much progress in stamping out corruption, new figures from the Berlin-based watchdog show. India ranked 76 out of 167 countries in 2015, where first place means the nation is least corrupt.

The country’s score was unchanged in 2015 from 38 on a scale of 100, according the watchdog’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2015. China fared worse than India, with a score of 37. In 2013 and 2012, India had scored 36. Last year, the survey ranked it as less corrupt than China for the first time in 18 years.

Countries are ranked on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be, and zero on the corruption scale means “highly corrupt,” while 100 means “very clean,” and a number below 50 means a country has serious corruption problems, Transparency International said.

“Corruption remains a blight around the world. But 2015 was also a year when people again took to the streets to protest corruption. People across the globe sent a strong signal to those in power: it is time to tackle grand corruption,” said José Ugaz, chair of Transparency International, said in a news release.

Grand corruption is the abuse of high-level power that benefits the few at the expense of the many, the report said. Although corruption is still rife globally, more countries improved their scores in 2015, demonstrating that people working together can succeed in the battle against corruption.

In India, corruption ranges from embezzlement of public money to abuse of power, and affects all levels of the society. In 2011, Gandhian rights activist Anna Hazare started a Satyagraha movement by commencing a fast unto death in New Delhi to demand the passing of the Jan Lokpal Bill, also referred to as the citizens’ ombudsman bill.

A proposed anti-corruption law, the Jan Lokpal Bill was proposed by anti-corruption social activists from the civil society as opposed to the official Lokpal Bill proposed by the government of the country. However, attempts to draft a compromise bill, merging the Government’s version and that of the civil group’s version, by a committee of five cabinet ministers and five social activists failed. The Indian government introduced its own version of the bill in the parliament, which the activists consider to be too weak.

In November 2015, the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi cleared the Jan Lokpal Bill, paving the way towards creating the post of an anti-graft ombudsman, which it claimed was similar to the one proposed during the Anna Hazare movement.

However, the Transparency International report said that in two South Asian nations, India and Sri Lanka, governments came to power on anticorruption platforms, but “are falling short of their bold promises”.

In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made stamping out graft a focus of his tenure, which began in May 2014. While his administration has had few such scandals and has introduced measures to increase transparency, its efforts have so far failed to change how the country is viewed.

The report pointed to Sri Lanka as a country where activists have worked to drive out graft. The island nation last year voted out Mahinda Rajapaksa amid accusations that he had abused his power during his close-to 10 years in office.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan and Pakistan’s failure to tackle corruption feeds conflict in the region, the report said. Pakistan’s number slightly improved in 2015 from 29 in 2014 to 30, Afghanistan’s worsened from 12 to 11. Elsewhere in the region, Nepal was judged to be slightly more corrupt than the year before, its number went from 29 in 2014 to 27 in 2015.

Two-thirds of the 168 countries on the CPI index for 2015 scored below 50. Denmark took the top spot for the 2nd year running, with North Korea and Somalia the worst performers, scoring just 8 points each. In Asia Pacific, New Zealand was top for a lack of corruption with a score of 88. The U.S. scored 76. The big decliners in the past 4 years include Libya, Australia, Brazil, Spain and Turkey. The big improvers include Greece, Senegal and UK.

Brazil was the biggest decliner in the index, falling 5 points and dropping 7 positions to a rank of 76. The unfolding Petrobras scandal brought people into the streets in 2015 and the start of judicial process may help Brazil stop corruption.

Top performers share key characteristics: high levels of press freedom; access to budget information so the public knows where money comes from and how it is spent; high levels of integrity among people in power; and judiciaries that don’t differentiate between rich and poor, and that are truly independent from other parts of government.

In addition to conflict and war, poor governance, weak public institutions like police and the judiciary, and a lack of independence in the media characterise the lowest ranked countries.

The Corruption Perceptions Index is based on expert opinions of public sector corruption. Countries’ scores can be helped by open government where the public can hold leaders to account, while a poor score is a sign of prevalent bribery, lack of punishment for corruption and public institutions that don’t respond to citizens’ needs.

This year Transparency International is calling on all people to take action by voting at unmaskthecorrupt.org. “We want to know which cases the public most believe merit urgent attention to send a message that we will take a stand against grand corruption,” it said.

Source: transparency.org

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