The latest report by Transparency International (TI), the Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog, has a surprise. India ranks No 70 on its Corruption Perception Index (CPI) out of 163 nations. It is a distinct improvement over last year, when India stood at No 88. For the first time, India has reversed its downward slide on the CPI, and a reason for this is probably the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
In the report released on Monday, Iraq, Myanmar and Haiti are perceived as most corrupt while Finland, Iceland and New Zealand are seen as the cleanest.
TI calculates the CPI score on the basis of perceptions of the degree of corruption in each country by international organisations, business people and analysts. The score ranges between zero, which means highly corrupt, and 10, which means very clean. The agency said countries with indices below three were considered highly corrupt. India narrowly escaped falling in this category with a score of 3.3 points.
Vice-Admiral (retd) R.H. Tahiliani, president of TI-India, said the marginal improvement was welcome but there was a long road ahead. "Indians give Rs 21,000 crore every year as bribes," he said.
He credited the RTI Act with bringing in more transparency in the government. "That was objective of the Act," said O.P. Kejriwal, information commissioner in the Central Information Commission.
According to the CPI, India has the lowest perceived level of corruption among South Asian nations. Bangladesh, ranked 156, is the most corrupt, followed by Pakistan at 142 and Sri Lanka at 84.