Half the people in India has first hand Experience of Corruption

Nearly half of those who avail the services of the most-often visited public departments of the Government in the country had first hand experience of giving bribe at one time or other. In fact, as high as two-thirds of the people think that corruption in these offices is real. However, one-third think corruption is more often exaggerated. And yet, 80 per cent of the people are passive as hardly 20 per cent had ever complained about corruption to any.

In Lucknow and Hyderabad, a much higher percentage had used influence of one kind or the other to get things done. In both cities, around 60 per cent had in fact given bribe against only 38 per cent in Chennai and 42 per cent in Pune. Those in Pune obviously are more active citizens - little over a quarter have ever complained about corruption. In Chennai, more than 60 per cent had named politicians as responsible for corruption. ``Middlemen'' menace seems to be far more in Hyderabad and Lucknow.

Offices of driving licence and civil supplies were viewed as most corrupt in all the five cities. The city government of Hyderabad is viewed by its citizens as more corrupt than in other cities.

Relatively more among businessmen and self employed agreed giving bribe in all cities. Interestingly, even among ``government employees'' more than 40 per cent agreed giving bribe at one time or other in all the cities covered.

These are some of the highlights of the first-ever ``exit poll'' on corruption conducted by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) in five cities across the country at six government public service departments in each city during the Vigilance Awareness Week of October 31-November 4. In all, 2,576 visitors to these departments during the week were personally interviewed on their way out from these offices. The exit poll was carried on the suggestion of the Central Vigilance Commission.

About 63 per cent of people think that despite corruption in these offices is ``real'' and ``big'', it is not being tackled seriously and that the judiciary has been ineffective. Most consider politicians and officers responsible for corruption in the country. This is what Mr. S. P. Agrawal, Commissioner of Delhi Municipal Corporation, confessed last week before a Delhi Court when he said that ``there was rampant corruption in the MCD and that corruption is there in any organisation which has public dealings.'' This exit polls shows that it is so not only in Delhi but elsewhere too.

The Official concerned not being available and relevant clarifications not being known to the visitor are some of the reasons most often mentioned for sustaining corruption in these offices, according to the CMS exit poll.

Experience about corruption

In the case of around one-third of visitors to offices of one or other six key public service departments in the five cities covered in the poll, they need not revisit the office for the same purpose as the work has been done. In the case of 54 per cent, however, they have to revisit the office as their job could not be completed that day. Little over half of them, in fact, had been there earlier too for the same purpose. Many of them visited more than twice.

In the case of one-fifth, they had to revisit because the official concerned was not available. Another little over a quarter had to come back ``with one or other clarification.''

All the sampled visitors were asked whether they had ever used any ``influence or favour'' to get the work done in the said department where they were interviewed. Nearly 60 per cent said they never had to do anything to get their job attended to. However, one-third had a different experience.

To another question whether anyone in ``the close circle of friends and relatives'' had the ``experience of paying or using a contact'' to get things done in the department, 41 per cent said positively. However, in the case of nearly half they knew no one with such experience.

All those who had such an experience said they had to do so either to get the work done or to get it expedited.

Menace of middle men

About 42 per cent of all the visitors covered in the exit poll said that there were ``middle men'' for the office/department.

In fact, little over one-third had confirmed experience of dealing with such ``middle men'' or some one close in the circle who had used middlemen. Nearly half of them, however, had no such experience.

To a more direct question, 48 per cent had said that they themselves or someone close to them had in fact given ``bribe, however, small or big'' at one time or other.

Hardly one-fifth of all visitors covered in the poll confirmed ``ever complaining'' about any problem encountered in availing the public services covered in the poll. However, 81 per cent never did so, as most ``passive citizens''.

Only one-third of all visitors covered in the poll heard about the Central Vigilance Commission's initiative for organising Vigilance Awareness Week.


However 69 per cent, had not heard of the week although the offices/ departments covered in the poll were supposed to publicise.

Perceptions about corruption

As high as two-thirds of people think corruption is ``real'' against only about a quarter who think corruption is more a ``hearsay''. Nearly 40 per cent think that corruption is often exaggerated, against about 40 per cent who think otherwise.

In fact, a little over 60 per cent of people think corruption is ``large'' against less than one-third who think it is only ``petty corruption''.

Recently a former Prime Minister, a former Chief Minister and a few of politicians were sentenced for corrupt practices. But that seems to have no effect on the psyche.

Only one-third think that corruption is being tackled seriously in the country against about half who think that such efforts are ``more symbolic''.

Judiciary ineffective

In fact, a little over 40 per cent of people think that judiciary in the country is not able to tackle corruption cases. About 26 per cent, however, think that it is because of ``other reasons'' that we are not able to tackle corruption in the country effectively.

Politicians responsible

Interestingly, as high as 48 per cent think that politicians are responsible for corruption in the country. Nearly one- third, however, think bureaucrats/ officers are responsible for corruption. Nearly 10 per cent think so of ``businessmen''. About 5 per cent consider ``media'' as responsible.

The poll confirms wider perception of what Mr. N. Vittal, Chief Vigilance Commissioner has been saying that ``neta, babu, lala, dada and jola'' constitute the crux of corruption in the country.

These are some of the highlights of a CMS ``exit poll'' of six most commonly used public departments conducted on the eve of Vigilance Awareness Week starting October 31.

``Visitors'' to those six departments were sampled for five days at five key cities of the country. This is the first time in the country that a Vigilance Awareness Week was celebrated as a part of CVC's campaign against corruption.

These cities where this exit poll was conducted are New Delhi. Lucknow, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune. The public departments covered were those of electricity, telephone, ration card/civil supplies city government, driving licence and local urban development office where a large number of people usually go.

At each of these selected offices ``visitors'' for some service or other were systematically sampled each day during peak hours of office for a structured interview at the exit gates on their way out after the visit.

Thus, in all, some 2,576 carefully sampled such visitors were interviewed for this CMS ``exit poll''. From each city not less than 500 visitors were covered in the poll during the week.

For consistency in the poll a structured questionnaire was used for the interview of visitors in all the five cities.

The interview covered ``perceptions'' about corruption as well as first hand ``experience'' in availing the services of these public offices.

Considering the sensitivity in conducting the exit poll in some cities, CMS co-opted local assistance from local premier institutes like, IIM in Lucknow, Symbiosis in Pune.

The CMS researchers witnessed threats and obstacles in conducting the poll at least one point or other mostly from the ``middle men'' operating from outside these sampled public offices.

This is the first time in the country that such a structured study was conducted on corruption.

CMS is currently developing a methodology to conduct time series study on ``corruption and civic concern''.