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Graft hurting India's growth story

Corruption is affecting government’s decision making, delaying progress. Shubhi Vijay writes. India vs corruption

india Updated: Nov 30, 2011 11:00 IST
Shubhi Vijay

Protests, by their very nature, are brimming with people, energy, jingoism and well, jingle-ism. Anyone who saw the almost circus-like coverage of the anti-corruption protests would know. From "Ek, do, teen, chaar, Bandh karo yeh bhrashtachar" to "Gali gali mein shor hai, Desh ke neta chor hain", catchy slogans were everywhere to be heard.

Of course, the message behind the slogans is very serious. Corruption has reached such a zenith that anger and frustration has spilled onto the streets.

The real impact of graft is being felt. Industry leaders have been saying that decision-making has ground to a halt. Over 51% of participants in a Hindustan Times -CNN-IBN survey agree with that assessment. This result varied widely across cities. While 72% of Delhi residents agreed that decision making is affected, only 29% in Kolkata did. "The pervasive fear of being persecuted for decisions, even those intended in the right spirit, is preventing many officials from taking much-needed steps," Kapil Sibal, Union minister, said this week.

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90% of urban Indians believe corruption is hurting India's growth prospects. Faith in the power of the Lokpal, the all-powerful ombudsman also varies. While 82.2% Delhiites believe it will be enough to curb corruption, in Chennai only 35.5% agree. "One bill will not make any difference unless fundamental changes in governance and delivery mechanisms are made," said a sceptical Kalpana Satish, a researcher from Chennai.

Lokpal or no Lokpal, over three-fourths of respondents think we already have enough laws against corruption. It is their weak implementation that has rendered them toothless. The reason? 51% say because our leaders are corrupt. Once again, dissatisfaction with leaders is highest in Delhi, with over 81% of residents there blaming politicians.

Tomorrow
Rajiv Kumar, secretary general, FICCI, on the need for structural reform in the Indian economy. Also, an HT-CNN-IBN survey on the new economic order.

(With inputs from KV Lakshmana in Chennai)