The law keepers of the country seem to have their hands full, literally, when they are not chasing crooks and criminals.
Meant to protect the public against crime, policemen in India have found themselves in the list of those who demand the most bribes, according to a survey by Trace International, a non-profit membership association that helps companies combat bribery.
The survey points that a majority of bribe demands in India (91 per cent) came from government officials. And policemen accounted for 30 per cent of the bribe demands (second only to national-level government oficials at 33 per cent).
"The vast majority of the reports in India are of extortionate demands for the purpose of avoiding some harm or disadvantage," Trace President Alexandra Wrage said in a statement issued through Asianet.
"It is interesting to note that 30 per cent of these reports describe bribes demanded by the police. Bribeline can uncover key trends for international companies to consider when crafting their risk mitigation tools so companies can address the real issues that their employees face on the ground in India," she added.
According to the Wrage, ninety-six anonymous reports about bribery demands in India were filed between July 1, 2007 and October 30, 2008 on Trace's Business Registry for International Bribery and Extortion (BRIBEline),a multilingual online tool for reporting bribe demands worldwide.
Of the total reported bribe demands at the national level, 13 per cent were from the national office of Customs and 9 per cent each were from the national offices of Taxation and Water.
Seventy-seven percent of the reports described extortionate demands - payments for avoiding a harm or disadvantage rather than for gaining an advantage. Of those, more than half (51 per cent) were for the timely delivery of services to which the individual was already entitled, such as clearing customs or having a telephone line installed.
Only 12 per cent of the reported bribe demands were for gaining an advantage, including exercising influence with or over another government official, receiving inappropriate favorable treatment, or winning new business. The remaining 11 per cent of reporters characterised the bribe demand as falling in some other, unspecified category of purpose.
According to the report,nearly half of the individuals who reported a demand for a bribe said they had been asked for bribes more than once. Of those, 9 per cent reported that they had been solicited more than 100 times.
Sixty percent of those who reported multiple demands reported that they had been solicited five times or fewer.
It further pointed out that ninety-two percent of all reported bribe demands were for cash or a cash equivalent. The next most common demand reported, at 5 per cent, was a "gift," including requests for company products, jewelry and similar items.
Much less commonly reported, at approximately 1 per cent each, were requests for hospitality or entertainment; travel for other than business purposes; and other assistance, such as help with a visa, medical care or scholarships.