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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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Khaleda Zia granted bail in 2008 corruption case

Khaleda is a two-time Bangladesh Prime Minister, having ruled from 1991-96 and again from 2001-06

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Khaleeda Zia granted 64 months bail. IANS

Bangladesh Nationalist Party Chairperson Khaleda Zia, convicted in a corruption case, was granted bail on Monday.

BNP leader Zia secured a four-month bail in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case in which she was handed five years of imprisonment by a Bangladesh court.

“Now, there is no legal bar to let Khaleda walk out of prison on bail,” Bangladesh Daily Star quoted BNP Advocate Sagir Hossain Leon as saying.

Earlier today, a bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Shahidul Karim passed the bail order in response to a petition moved by Khaleda before a high court back in February.

Her bail was considered on four grounds, including her health condition.

Further, the high court directed the concerned authority to prepare the paper book of the case within the next four months for hearing the appeal she filed against her conviction in the case.

The high court sentenced Zia’s eldest son and Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP) Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman and four others for at least 10 years with a fine of 2.10 crore Bangladeshi takas (Tk).

The Anti-Corruption Commission had earlier filed a case in 2008 with Ramna Police Station, accusing six persons including Khaleda and her son Tarique.

Khaleda is a two-time Bangladesh Prime Minister, having ruled from 1991-96 and again from 2001-06.

In a political career spanning almost four decades, Khaleda went to the jail several times but was never convicted. She was detained several times during the anti-Ershad movement between the 1980s and 1990s.

In March 1983, she was made vice-chairperson of BNP after her husband and former Bangladesh President Ziaur was assassinated.

She went on to become the party’s chairperson in 1984, a position which she holds today. May 10, 1984.

Since the last three decades, Bangladeshi politics have been dominated by Zia and current Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

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