The general perception of India’s public-sector corruption levels improved by nine places in global rankings over the last one year, though its overall score remained the same.
The country placed at 76 out of 168 countries with a score of 38 from a possible 100 in global watchdog Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index-2015. However, it was placed 85 in 2014 despite having the same score, and at 94 in 2013 – with a marginally lower score of 36.
The index is based on expert opinions of public sector corruption, looking at a range of factors like whether governmental leaders are held to account or go unpunished for corruption, the perceived prevalence of bribery, and whether public institutions respond to citizens’ needs.
Even globally, there seemed to be an overall improvement in corruption alleviation – with both the United States and United Kingdom making their best rankings ever.
The winning party, however, came as no surprise with Denmark retaining the top spot with 91 of a possible 100 points. North Korea and Somalia remained at the bottom with unchanged scores of 8.
The US rose by one spot this year to the 16th place with a score of 76, tying with Austria. The UK rose three spots to place 10th with a score of 81 – tying with Germany and Luxembourg. The other top spots, from second to ninth, were occupied by Finland, Sweden, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore and Canada.
Despite so many countries in the top 10, Transparency said there was still a lot of room for improvement in Europe and Central Asia, which it grouped as one region, saying “in low-scorers Hungary, Poland and Turkey, politicians and their cronies are increasingly hijacking state institutions to shore up power”.
“It’s even grimmer further down the index,” the organisation continued. “In Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and others, governments are restricting, if not totally stifling, civil society and free media.”
Russia sat in 119th place, on the same level as Azerbaijan, Guyana and Sierra Leone, although its score improved from 27 in 2014 to 29 in 2015, bringing its ranking on the list up from 136th place.
Brazil, in the midst of a massive corruption scandal at the state-owned oil company Petrobras, posted the biggest decline, falling 5 points to a score of 38 and dropping seven positions to 76th place – tying with India.
Transparency noted that in places like Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Ghana, citizen activists have “worked hard to drive out the corrupt”.
“The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index clearly shows that corruption remains a blight around the world,” said Transparency head Jose Ugaz. “But 2015 was also a year when people again took to the streets to protest corruption. People across the globe sent a strong signal to those in power: it is time to tackle grand corruption.”
Overall, two-thirds of the 168 countries studied scored below 50, and the global average stood at 43. Nevertheless, Transparency said it was a good sign that 64 countries had improved their score while only 53 declined. The rest remained unchanged.
(With AP inputs)