India's integrity score on a scale of 10 has gone down marginally from 3.5 in 2007 to 3.4 this year, but it has meant a sharp dip in rankings as some other nations have improved. While China is ranked 72, last year, both the countries were ranked 72. At the 85th slot, India is pretty much in the middle of the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of 180 countries. Given India's size and muddled politics, a comparison with high-scoring Nordic countries would be out of place, but even holding on to the 72nd slot would have been some consolation.
The study has ranked Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, Singapore and Finland as the five least corrupt nations with Britain at 16th place and Japan sharing the 18th slot with the US. Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Myanmar and Somalia (180th) were the five most corrupt countries.
India, however, has done better than other countries in South Asia except Bhutan which has an impressive CPI of 5.2 and a ranking of 45. There is limited satisfaction be drawn from being better than Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. India and China were at par last year but the communist country has maintained its position of 72 with a slightly higher score of 3.6.
Transparency International's India chairperson, R H Tahiliani, said police, politics and lower judiciary were the worst dens of corruption in the country. "We have been pressing for the passage of the Lok Pal bill, Corrupt Public Servants (Forfeiture of Property) Bill and other measures like the ratification of UNCAC (United Nations Convention against Corruption). But our political establishment has shown no will to address these measures which would influence India's standing in the world community and show that it is serious about combating corruption," Tahiliani, a former navy chief, said.
The ranking, rated as fairly credible, is done through a mathematical model based on surveys sourced through 13 institutions like Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank, Freedom House, Global Insight, Merchant International Group and Bertelsmann Transformation Index.
India's CPI had come down in 2006 and 2007, possibly because Integrity Pact (IP) procedures were adopted by some PSUs in public contracting and procurements. IP procedures aim at greater transparency and integrity between buyers and sellers, eliminating external interventions and improving a sense of ethics.
"While 28 PSUs have agreed to implement IP procedures, the government-nominated directors on boards of some PSUs have shown reluctance. Power sector is one area where not a single PSU has introduced IP despite advisories by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)," Tahiliani said.
Defence ministry has adopted IP for all procurements of Rs 100 crore or more, while the cap for the ministry's public sector enterprises is even lower at Rs 20 crore or more.