NATIONAL

India’s rank improves marginally

India has marginally improved its ranking on the global Corruption Perception Index this year, on the back of prosecutions of high-level officials and hope that the new leadership will reduce corruption, Transparency International said on Wednesday.

India’s two-point improvement (on a total possible score of 100) did not count as a “significant change” unlike that in countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Afghanistan.

With a score of 36, India now ranks 85 among 175 countries, with countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burkina Faso for company. Denmark ranks first, as it did in 2013, while Somalia and North Korea share the bottom spot. India ranks better than all its South Asian neighbours, except Bhutan.

The composite index is made up of a combination of surveys and assessments of public sector corruption by international agencies including the World Bank and the World Economic Forum. Of the nine surveys and assessments used for India, most relied on expert opinion on the extent of corruption and the rule of law and only one polled the general public.

“The two-point increase reflects the prosecution of high level politicians and civil servants associated with the 2G and coal block allocations, a sign that institutions are robust in establishing rule of law and sanctioning the corrupt,” Santhosh Srinivasan, research coordinator at Transparency International, explained in an email to The Hindu . “In addition, the new leadership appears to have a strong anti-corruption drive, thereby creating further hope for a reduction in the levels of corruption as faced by ordinary people and businesses alike in the country,” Mr. Srinivasan said.

For this to go beyond rhetoric, further concrete steps and actions were needed including the enactment of all key pending anti-corruption bills, the setting up of a Lok Pal mechanism, curbing illicit financial flows and deepening people’s access to information, Mr. Srinivasan said.

Economic growth did not necessarily reduce corruption, Transparency International said, pointing to countries such as China whose corruption perception had worsened during a high growth period.