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Measuring Corruption: Perception vs Actual

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By Amit Kapoor

Evidence of corruption in a developing country like India can cause massive turmoil. Two cases in point have been the near collapse of UPA-II and the rise of the AAP in Delhi.

And yet, India is not alone when we talk about the endemic problem of corruption. Brazil has seen a lot of turmoil in the recent past with impeachment charges being pressed against the president. Similarly, the Petrobras scandal dented the image of Brazil internationally. All this points to the fact that countries across the world have seen corruption in the past.

Historically, even Kautilya (more than 300 years before Christ), in the treatise Arthshastra, mentions the problem of illegal transactions as well as public fraud. In a reference to it among officials stealing the money, he mentions that it is easier to ascertain the movement of birds in the sky rather than track the activities of corrupt officials. While things have gotten a lot better than the Mauryan times, there remains the endemic problem of corruption. The question is how do we track or measure it?

Reference to corruption is used in the context of use of public office for private goods. However, this is not the only form of corruption one can think about or in which it can exist. It can be with respect to the movement of files quickly through a system, as well as be in the form of benefits in kind and the like. It can be classified in various ways – as public versus private, moral versus monetary and even institutional versus retail. However, a fundamental feature is that it corrodes public wealth and often causes a loss to the society. It is worth mentioning that corruption can also be between two private individuals, though often people conceive it to be a public problem.

Transparency International, which works in the area of transparency and accountability of corporations and public institutions, does exactly that and measures corruption annually. It has just released its Corruption Perception Index 2015.

The index is on a scale of zero to 100 with zero being totally corrupt and 100 being totally clean. India has a score of 38, which shows it is relatively corrupt. However, this year the country is ranked 76 out of 168 economies compared to 85 out of 174 economies in 2014. India is better placed than its BRICS peers with Brazil at 76; Russia at 119; China at 83; and South Africa at 44.

While the index shows scores and ranks across countries, it does not tell much about the level of corruption actually observed. The problem arises as the index assumes that the best way for measuring corruption is measuring its perception. Another point is that is it valid to put a single number on the plethora of experiences businesses have in governance. What about the experiences of common citizens? Proxies in the index like the number of people caught for actual corruption can add value to the index. These can include details about charges of corruption and enforcement of these charges by public officials. Such actual cases can help assess corruption and not just the perception of it.

Over time, India should improve on the perception rating as well. The new government, to its credit, has not had big scams in the past, but the retail level corruption seems to be where it was. On a methodological note, Transparency International could use actual indicators which tell about corruption charges and enforcement on the ground. (IANS)

(The article is co-authored with Sankalp Sharma, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Competitiveness, India. Amit Kapoor is Chair, Institute for Competitiveness & Editor of Thinkers. The views expressed are personal)

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Ex-Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif Indicted on Corruption Charges

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Muhammad Safdar, husband of Maryam Nawaz, daughter of ousted Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif, waves from a a vehicle as he arrives at an accountability court in Islamabad. VOA

Islamabad, October 19: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been indicted on corruption charges stemming from information taken from the so-called “Panama Papers.”

The country’s anti-corruption court indicted the 67-year-old Sharif during a hearing Thursday in Islamabad. His daughter Maryam and son-in-law Mohammed Safdar were also indicted. Maryam Sharif and Mohammed Safdar appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A lawyer for the elder Sharif, who is in London with his wife as she undergoes cancer treatment, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Maryam Sharif angrily dismissed the allegations as “baseless.”

Sharif was disqualified by Pakistan’s Supreme Court and removed from office in July after leaked documents last year from a Panama-based law firm revealed the family held a number of unreported overseas assets.(VOA)

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Journalist Behind the Panama Papers Killed in a Car Bomb

Caruana Galizia was recently described by the American news outlet Politico as a "one-woman WikiLeaks".

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Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday when her car, a Peugeot 108, was destroyed by a powerful explosive device. (Representative image) Pixabay

Valletta, October 17, 2017 : A journalist who led the Panama Papers probe into corruption in Malta was killed on Monday in a car bomb near her residence, the media reported.

Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday when her car, a Peugeot 108, was destroyed by a powerful explosive device, reports the Guardian.

A blogger whose posts often attracted more readers than the combined circulation of the country’s newspapers, Caruana Galizia was recently described by the American news outlet Politico as a “one-woman WikiLeaks”.

Her latest revelations accused Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan.

No group or individual claimed responsibility for the attack, the Guardian reported.

Malta’s President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, called for calm. “In these moments, when the country is shocked by such a vicious attack, I call on everyone to measure their words, to not pass judgement and to show solidarity.”

ALSO READ Not Just Journalist Ram Chandra Chhatrapati, these 9 People too Bore the Brunt of Speaking Truth to Fight Corruption

In a statement, Muscat condemned the “barbaric attack”.

“Everyone knows Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine,” said Muscat, adding “Both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way.”

He announced in parliament later on Monday that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officers were on their way to Malta to assist with the investigation, following his request for help from the US government.

According to local media reports, Caruana Galizia filed a police report 15 days ago to say that she had been receiving death threats.

The journalist posted her final blog on her Running Commentary website at 2.35 p.m. on Monday, and the explosion, which occurred near her home, was reported to police just after 3 p.m.

Over the last two years, her reporting had largely focused on revelations from the Panama Papers, a cache of 11.5 million documents leaked from the internal database of the world’s fourth largest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. (IANS)

 

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Amit Shah Rejects Allegation of Money Laundering on Son Jay Shah

"Where has money laundering been done? All the transactions happened through cheques and banks," claimed Amit Shah at an event.

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Amit Shah, BJP National President. Wikimedia

Ahmedabad, October 13, 2017 : Breaking his silence, BJP president Amit Shah rejected allegations of money laundering against his son Jay Shah whose company had reportedly recorded an extraordinary spike in business after the BJP came to power at the Centre, and asserted that it had not done any business with the government nor taken any kickbacks.

He also said that unlike the Congress, which had faced many corruption charges in the past, his son has shown courage to file a civil and criminal defamation suit on the allegations levelled against him and “invited a probe against himself” by this step.

“There is no money laundering involved in Jay’s company. This company is completely in commodity business, where turnover is more while the profit is less. We have exported bajra, corn and rice while coriander was imported. And after doing a turnover of Rs 80 crore, they don’t tell how much they made profit,” Amit Shah said at an “India Today” event “Gujarat Panchayat”.

Answering questions, he said that after making a turnover of Rs 80 crore, Jay made a loss of Rs 1.5 crore. “Where has money laundering been done? All the transactions happened through cheques and banks,” he said.

Asked about Jay Shah filing a defamation suit against the publication, Shah said: “Before answering your question I would like to ask you one thing. After Independence, how many corruption charges have been made against the Congress?

“Please understand this is not corruption. Many allegations of corruption were made against the Congress. Did it ever file a civil suit or defamation suit? No. Why they lacked such courage? Today Jay has filed a defamation as well as civil suit and is demanding a probe himself. Those who have the evidence can submit it to the court, and then the court will decide,” the BJP president said.

He said: “We have ourselves invited a probe and on the company issue I want to clarify that it has not done business with the government of even Re 1 nor taken any government land or tender. Neither has it received kickbacks as in the case of Bofors.”

When asked about Jay’s company securing unsecured loans, Shah said it was not unsecured loans. “It was a line of credit,” he added. (IANS)