Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Jun 13, 2002
Industry & Economy
Survey soon on corruption in five S. Asian countries
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, June 12
TRANSPARENCY International, the Berlin-based international corruption watchdog better known for its annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) survey, which ranks countries in terms of the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians, will launch a regional South Asian survey in a month's time.
Disclosing this to Business Line, Dr Gopakumar Krishnan, the newly appointed Programme Manager (Asia-Pacific), said in about a month's time, it would bring out a document on the comparative look on corruption in five countries in South Asia, that is, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
This, according to Dr Krishnan, would perhaps provide the pivotal for launching regional campaigns against corruption. "The element of public shame involved can be a trigger for civic response. That's what CPI has been able to do in major countries of the world. The stigma attached, or e-shame as Mr N. Vittal, Chief Vigilance Commissioner, would like to call it, would act as a deterrent on the practice of corruption," says Dr Krishnan.
"Tapping the potency of the electronic medium to bring shame may have its own merits and demerits, but I would personally try to bring that strength into the TI," he added.
This is going to be the first exclusive corruption survey of the sub-continent. All five countries being covered are ruled by the same civil laws and the same legal and administrative structure. Results from the survey of one could be immediately replicated or tried out in the other. This is a major strength South Asia has.
The South Asian survey will have one qualitative difference - it will be based on what Dr Krishnan described as "indigenous material relevant to South Asia". Explaining, he said one of the problems with the extant CPI is that it seeks to enquire of the "investor", and not the "resident", about his outlook on corruption, which in turn provides the building block for the CPI index. Hence, there is very little ownership of local information that is coming out. But in the new format being tried out in South Asia, the entire sample is coming from within the country and the region.
The survey is going to be a costly proposition and the frequency may have to be limited to once in three years or so, Dr Krishnan said.
As Programme Manager for South Asia, Dr Krishnan will also be concerned with the running of TI chapters in India.
The idea is to set up more chapters because the country is too vast for the local Secretariat to control everything from New Delhi.
"We are looking for regional affiliations which may work under the rubric of TI India. Each chapter would be autonomous in their own functioning," he said.
Asked how he would ensure integration with the TI Berlin headquarters, he said a very strange relationship exists between the Secretariat and the chapters.
By definition, the Secretariat calls itself the servant of chapters. Which means the chapters are the driving force. Therefore, one finds uneven growth in chapters.
For example, Latin America houses some of the most advanced chapters in the TI network. Public procurement and public hearing have been perfected as an art. Most East European countries also have strong chapters.
TI's recently launched Bribe Payer's Index clearly shows that the developed countries should first put their own backyard in order before shifting their focus to corruption in the developing world.
"A lot of advocacy would have to go into that. Donor communities would have to be convinced of the need to make sure that the money given is spent wisely," he said.
TI has a country chapter in New Delhi. Apart from Kerala, it has active State-level chapters in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Kerala was the first regional chapter to be established.
The immediate task before him was to strengthen the regional network, Dr Krishnan said.
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