Corruption has dented India's international image resulting in loss on competitive efficiency with international businesses not willing to come, Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia told Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview.
"Many big international players are not willing to invest in India because of their perception of corruption in the government," he said.
The issue caught people's attention with Anna Hazare's campaign for an effective Lokpal Bill and the recent CAG reports on 2G scam, CWG 2010 and allocation of natural resources in Krishna-Godavari basin.
"We need more transparency and reforms to reduce corruption at all levels," he said, admitting it has impacted India "morally" and "economically".
Although the CAG has estimated a loss of over R2,00,000 crore because of corruption in allocation of 2G and CWG, the Central for Media Studies estimated that citizens paid over R10,000 crore as bribes to avail public services last year.
Ahluwalia admitted corruption was rampant but said Lokpal is not the only solution. "The problem is multi-dimensional and complex, and there is no perfect solution."
In a slew of measures, the 67-year-old economist suggested assured delivery of public services within a timeframe, independent evaluation of efficacy of welfare measures, law to regulate the regulators and special courts for quick decision on corruption cases.
"The CBI track record on corruption cases is very poor with 2 to 3 % conviction rate," he said.
According to Ahluwalia, judicial delays "devastate" an honest person but encourage the corrupt. "There should be a timeframe for courts to decide a corruption case," he said.
He also hinted at another dimension of corruption - political interference preventing the bureaucracy from taking action against the corrupt at the lower levels. The government, he said, needs to clearly define role and accountability at different levels of the bureaucracy.
He called for streamlining the public private partnership (PPP) process to make it transparent and competitive, while highlighting that private players have not delivered the promised services in health sector.
The call to fight corruption, he said, has to come from the government; Hazare's campaign has done the job of highlighting the issue.