India is more corrupt than China, says Transparency International survey
Times of India 31-3-2001

Hong Kong : A widely respected Corruption Perception Index (CPI) confirms what the Tehelkas-generated Armsgate scandal suggest: that India has a dismal record in the vital task of diminishing pervasive corruption. While China is seen to have slightly diminished its degree of corruption, India is not perceived in this way, and continues to languish among the most corrupt Asian nations. 

The index is produced annually by Transparency International (TI), the anti-corruption NGO based in Germany. Every year, Transparency International runs a survey of perceptions of corruption. More accurately it develops a composite index by gathering together and synthesizing several surveys, (11 in 200), on how businessmen and other perceive the extent of corruption in various nations. It must be stressed that these indexes do not measure corruption perse, but only indicate the extent to which it is subjectively seen to exit. 

The index was first produced in 1995, while the latest one is for the year 2000. The corruption perception indexes have presented a fairly regular regional pattern for Asia. 

Singapore is clearly seen as the least corrupt Asian nation and is always ranked in the top ten of least corrupt nations globally. The city-state’s score (out of 10) in the CPI is always well ahead of any other Asian national and was 9.1 in 2000 as against the 10 scored by top-ranking Finland. Except for 1996, when it ran a notch behind Japan. Hong Kong always comes second, ahead of Japan. Hong Kong always was 15th out of 99 nations surveyed in 199 and 15th out of 90 last year. 

This respectable record owes a  lost to the institution and the image of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), set up with special powers in the 1970’s when the corruption, especially in the police, was clearly on the rise. Indonesia, China and India all have a poor record in the world Corruption Perception Index . Indonesia started off being perceived as the most corrupt national in the world in 1995, a position now taken by Nigeria. Indonesia started off being perceived as the most corrupt national in the world in 1995, a position now taken by Nigeria. Indonesia continues to hover around the bottom of the global table and is certainly seen as the most corrupt Asian nation with a score of only 1.7 in the latest index. 

China started off next to Indonesia- 40th out of 41 nations in 1995 and 50th out of 54 in 1996. Since then, its record has improved slightly to being 58th out of 99 nations in 1999 and to being 63rd out of 90 nations last year with 3.1 being its CPI score. India is perceived as being more corrupted than China. India was doing better than China when the index was fist calculated but now it is regularly placed near the bottom of the Asian pecking order, usually ranking near Vietnam and the Philippines, and being better only than Indonesia. 

In the last 3 years, India was 66th out of 85 nations in 1998, 72nd out of 99 nations in 1999, and 69th out of 90 nations last year. In the 2000 CPI India scored 2.8 out of 10 along with the Philippines. Of course the indexes are a subjective measure. It may be for example that businessmen surveyed get greater profits from their bribes in China than from those paid in India and therefore see China as being less corrupt. 

Similarly, perceptions of India may be clouded by the fact that the problem is freely described and debated within India, whereas in China there is of course no such freedom of expression, and the only reports on corruption tend to be when the government chooses to attack it. 

The harsh fact remains that Transparency International indexes, together with the Tehelka scoop, confirm that India Faces a massive problem: Indian democracy is being subverted by corruption and there is a dearth of action to truly remedy this situation.