`Rs 470 crore as bribe for basic services`

Ranging from Rs 1 to Rs 950, rural households have paid bribe to avail basic facilities.

New Delhi: Ranging from Re one to Rs 950,
rural households in the country could have paid a whopping Rs
471.8 crore last year as bribe to avail basic facilities such
as ration, health, education and water supply, says a study.

The `India Corruption Study: 2010` report prepared by
Centre for Media Studies (CMS), a survey of 9,960 households
in 12 states, says on an average a rural household could have
paid Rs 164 as bribe for availing these facilities in a year.

The study said the total amount of Rs 471.8 crore is
"equal or less" than the total expenditure made under MNREGA
during 2010-11 in states like Assam, Gujarat, Kerala, Himachal
Pradesh and Maharashtra.

"The estimation of bribe amount paid by the rural
households brings out an amount of Rs 471.8 crore...The
percentage of rural households that paid bribe during the last
year was relatively higher in PDS (11.5 percent), followed
by hospitals (9), schools (5.8), water (4.3)," the study said.

It claimed that the socio-economically weaker sections
were most affected by corrupt practices in public services.

More than 40 percent of rural households belonging to
OBC and SCs felt that the level of corruption has increased in
public services during the last one year while 28 percent
each opined that the level of corruption has remained the
same, it said.

An analysis by income level indicated that three out of
four rural households which had to pay bribe in any of the
public services have monthly household income of Rs 5,000 or
less, indicating the high dependence of the economically poor
households on these public services.

"As reported by rural households, they had to pay even
Rs one-two to get a family member examined as an out-patient,
mostly to get the registration or OPD card and as high as Rs
900 to avail diagnostic services such as X-ray, blood or urine
tests at a public health facility," the study said.

A rural household had to pay Rs five as bribe to get an
application form for ration card while they had to pay as high
as Rs 800 for getting a BPL card without documents, it said,
adding, for getting admission form, rural households had to
shell out Rs ten as bribe while some paid Rs 700-800 to get
scholarship or admission in schools.

"For proper water supply, the bribe paid by households
for various services ranged between Rs 15 and Rs 950. The wide
gap between minimum and maximum amount paid as bribe for the
same purpose indicate that even submission of a request
requires paying bribe apart from paying bribe to get water at
the right time to irrigate the agricultural field," it said.

The study said Rs 156.8 crore might have been given as
bribe in PDS while for water supply services, rural households
could have paid Rs 83.3 crore. Another Rs 130 crore have been
paid to avail hospital services.

In the forward for the study, NAC member Aruna Roy said,
"The poor fight against corruption and become victims of
arbitrary use of power. The bribe paid by these households
merely to survive, brings into sharp focus a set of concerns
that should engage the interest of the media to fight the
system on their behalf."

The study claimed that the perception about corruption in
public services decreased last year compared to 2005. While in
a 2005 survey 70 percent of the surveyed felt that there was
corruption in public services, the number decreased to 40 per
cent in the latest study.

"However, a significant 19 (2010) and 23 (2005) percent
of rural households felt that the level of corruption has
remained the same in public services," it said.

Bihar and Chhattisgarh rank top in the list of states
where people felt the most that there was an increase in
corruption in public services. Sixty-six percent each in
these two states felt that there was increase in corruption.

Interestingly, the perception of corruption in Bihar has
come down this year compared to the figure of 87 percent in
2005 of those who felt that the menace was on rise in the

In an interesting comparison of Left-ruled states,
Tripura and West Bengal fared better than Kerala. Nineteen per
cent in Tripura and 33 percent in West Bengal thought there
was increase in corruption but the figure was at a high of 59
percent in Kerala.

"Overall, the percentage of rural households which paid
bribe has come down exactly by half (28 percent from 56 per
cent). However, in states like Chhattisgarh (55), Bihar (52),
Kerala (46) and Maharashtra (40), a high percentage of rural
household paid bribe to avail the services of a public service
during the last one year," the study said.

The major reasons for paying bribes included getting a
new ration card, to take monthly ration, to get admission in
school, to get scholarship, for issuance of different types of
certificates, to get irrigation water, to get the water pipe
repaired and for installation or maintenance of hand pumps.

In the health sector, the study said, one-fourth of those
who paid bribes cited getting medicines from the hospital as
the reason. The other key reason for paying bribe was to get
examined as an out-patient and for diagnostic services.

An analysis done by CMS Media Lab noted that there was a
four-time increase in coverage of news related to corruption
in prime time since 2005.