Last year, we did a story on IPaidABribe.com (IPAB), a website where people can report bribe’s they’ve paid to get access to Government services in India, as well as corruption incidents involving Government officers.
IPaidABribe.com lets you add details such as the amount of money paid, your city and the government department that was involved. Names are scrubbed out from the database to ensure that individual identities are protected. Janagraha, the NGO behind IPAB uses this data to lobby the government department into taking action against corruption.
We analyzed the data published by IPAB to figure out what corruption in India looks like. The data consisted of more than 15,000 reports crowd-sourced from individuals via the web or SMS. The reports start with 4 reports of bribes paid in 1995 to over 5000 reports of bribes paid in 2011. The site has crowd sourced reports totalling to about Rupees 35.2 million paid in bribes, or US$ 7.16 million
We notice that a lot of bribes – about 65% – are collected within the first 10 days of every month, perhaps indicating dissatisfaction in wages and corruption as a means to supplement income.
Bribe reporters are urban Indians with an internet connection and who have read about IPAB online. We estimate that these reports represent at best 2% – 3% of total instances of corruption existing in public services.
Analysis shows that of all bribes nearly 50% are paid to the police. Considering that the average police constable makes Rs 8,000 or US$ 160 a month, and is in a fairly powerful position over the rest of society, its no surprise that the police services are amongst the most corrupt. One of the most common questions I’ve been asked when stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation – “How much do you make per month”.
The department of Registrations and Income Tax come next. These are departments that can levy fines and penalties for not having things in order, and it appears it is the power that is being abused in order to demand a bribe.
The city of Bangalore reported 4225 incidents of bribes paid. This number is at least four times higher compared to other cities reporting bribes. Perhaps the reason for this is that IPAB have been successful at spreading the word about the web portal in Bangalore. As a result bribes reported in Bangalore are over Rs 132 million. That is of course just the reported number, the real number could be much higher.