As I noted in India Business Checklists, there’s no getting round it: India has a problem with corruption. At the time, I posed the question to the people I interviewed: Is corruption getting better or worse? I got a mixed response.
Well, Transparency International recently released their 2009 report on Corruption Perceptions across 180 countries. When I saw India’s rank – 84th – I went Ouch! In 2007 this organization ranked India at 72 (on par with China and Mexico). In 2009, India ranks with El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama and Thailand. Serbia is ahead (83), as is Burkina Faso (79). China also slipped in the rankings, but only to 79th.
When I looked at the actual score, though, I found the situation somewhat less dire. Transparency International scores countries on a ten-point scale, where 10 is the best, and 1 the worst. In 2009, top-ranked New Zealand made 9.4 , and Somalia 1.1 at the bottom.
India came up with 3.4, which is of course not great, but also not that far behind China’s 3.6 score. In fact, if you look at ten year’s worth of surveys – as I did in the graph- you find India’s score (green line) has actually been rising, while its rank (red line) has been bouncing around between 69 and 90.
So what’s the takeaway? By this measure, Indian corruption seems to be improving gradually – but perhaps not as fast as in other places. A rank of 84 is still a problem. On a global scale, “acceptable” levels of corruption are going to be set by nations such as the US (graph below) and Japan (Rank this year 17th, score 7.7).
ETA: Just as a coda, I came across this amusing story in my friend R. Balakrishnan’s weblog. Comic, but serious.