CHURUMURI POLL: How corrupt are you?

The outgoing chief vigilance commissioner (CVC), Pratyush Sinha, a rarely heard, rarely seen figure during his tenure, has made news on his exit route. In a newspaper interview, he has said one out of every three Indians was “utterly corrupt” and half the population was “borderline”.

Sinha told Mint that corruption was “palpable” in modern India, saying only “20 per cent of Indians are honest, regardless of the temptations, because this is how they are. They have a conscience.”

“In India, the most unfortunate part is that the society is no longer seriously concerned about corruption and there is social acceptance. When we were growing up I remember if somebody was corrupt, they were generally looked down upon. There was at least some social stigma attached to it. That is gone. So there is greater social acceptance.

“This is a kind of paradox. On one side, civil society has become more active in exposing corruption; people are filing PILs (public interest litigations) and various other ways of highlighting corruption, trying to do something about it. On the other hand, in society, there is a general acceptance of corruption. If somebody has a lot of money, he is respectable. Nobody questions by what means he has got the money.”

Questions: Do the numbers look fair? Do you belong to the fifth, the third or the other half? Does corruption matter any longer, or have we internalised it completely?

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt State?

When did a Rs 10 crore bribe stop moving us?

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt CM?

Why has corruption become such a small issue?

Will corruption end if we hang the corrupt?

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16 Responses to “CHURUMURI POLL: How corrupt are you?”

  1. murty Says:

    Seems the poll has been taken only by all people honest. there seems to be no corruption at all.

  2. Mysore Peshva Says:

    Shri. Sinha seems like a noble person. I enjoyed reading his interview.

    The real story — that I hope Churumuri covers — lies in the selection of Shri. Sinha’s successor, Shri. P.J. Thomas. That man has been opposed by one of the members of the selection committee — Smt. Sushma Swaraj, the leader of opposition — for what seems like legitimate reasons:

    1. As telecom secretary in the Union ministry of communications and IT, Shri. Thomas is, apparently, currently being investigated by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee and the CBI for his alleged role in a so-called 2G spectrum scam of 2010.

    2. As food secretary in Shri. Karunakaran’s government in Kerala, Shri. Thomas was investigated by the central vigilance commission and the CBI in the palm oil import scam of 2007. I don’t know if he was exonerated.

    In these circumstances, Shri. Thomas’ appointment as central vigilance commissioner is, prima facie, clearly inappropriate.

    Smt. Swaraj’s objection to his appointment to the high position was overruled by the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, who were the other members of the selection committee, she has said. Smt. Swaraj suspects that Shri. Thomas was appointed with a corrupt agenda, to cover up the 2G spectrum scam! — It’s like appointing a fox to guard the henhouse! If what she says is true then, clearly, things cannot get better.

  3. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Corruption does not matter. Learn to live with it.

  4. Raaj Says:

    Anonymous Guy – I am sure you would always like to be anonymous, hiding in a shell, with views like that.

  5. C Says:

    Is it not meet that the Anonymous Guy believes that corruption does not matter?


  6. Narayana Says:

    Brazenness of Gandhi after the Bofors scandal invigorated corrupt in India and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

  7. Nastika Says:

    If somebody has a lot of money, he is respectable. Nobody questions by what means he has got the money”

    Spot on !

    Current society expects me to be rich. I have house, car & jewellery. My wife is happy, my kids are happy & my friends are happy. Easiest way for me to be rich is go for under table deals. If I get caught, then its unfortunate.

    Attitude is, Govt servant in my home must make money (even via corruption), but when I want Govt services, I lament about corruption and the bribe I need to pay. I forget that somebody else feels the same about the Govt servant in my family.

  8. Vishwa Says:

    Sushma Swaraj objects! She sure has a sense of humour.What about her godchildren the Reddy bros?


  9. Narayana Says:

    Outgoing Central Vigilance Commissioner of India Mr Pratyush Sinha thinks that one in three Indians is corrupt.
    No. I believe that figure is red herring..We can not solve corruption by chasing corruption.
    The problem with India is one in three Indians is an idiot and others are fence sitters.
    It is the idiocy of Indians that need to be blamed for corruption because there are simple solutions to get out of corruption.. Here are they.
    1. Limit the number of tenures for chief minister and prime minister’s posts to a maximum of two terms in life time.
    This will create a churn among the politicians and we may get better candidates once in a while. Remember CVC’s observation that 30% are corrupt and 20% are honest…In the current setup 20% never get chance.
    2. Introduce “right to a speedy trial” in fundamental rights. (Just like as in USA)– Faster trials produce deterrent results and instill fear of law in corrupt and belief in the system for the fence sitters.
    3. Electronic transaction records for any purchases above Rs. 10,000. At present the corrupt can spend their black money lavishly.. Create a system that can trace the spending to the person so that law enforcement can spend time in prosecutions rather than conducting raids to uncover unaccounted money.
    4. Think market solutions.. One of the problem with India is that we are trained to think too much into supply side. America thinks from the market side and assumes that market solves the problem. In India if we want to ensure meals to the poorest of poor we come out with elaborate public distribution system that then soon devolves into self serving corrupt organization. In America they have solved this problem long ago. Government distributes food stamps to the poorest of the poor. These food stamps can be used to purchase whatever they want from the free market at competitive prices and superior quality.
    Thinking supply side is a pattern that repeats everywhere in India. If we want to send man to moon we come out with an organization that will create the infrastructure and own that end to end.. In America government creates a market for services that can be used for flight to the moon and individual companies bid for providing innovative solution. So the private sector builds the infrastructure and pushes the envelope.
    5. Last but not most difficult to achieve is overhaul of education. At present we have a feeling that corruption is an issue of ethics. However corruption has to be equated to bad governance. Corruption is a form of governance that undermines accountability. The systems that have no accountability in the physical world are called “open systems” and open systems are hard to predict. Only when the feedback that too a corrective form of feedback is introduced the systems become stable.
    In the case of India the education and rationalization of Indians is incomplete. People are not able to see the connection between the endless poverty, stasis and corruption. It is not that we do not have means to come out of that cycle. But we need a system that shuts out corruption and we need to think that we are better off with that system.. rather than fatalistic approach many people are educated into.

  10. Mysore Peshva Says:


    Jai ho to you. Excellent points all.

  11. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Raaj C, most non-anonymous person on the internet., what in-corruptible things have you done in life lately?

  12. Anonymous Guy Says:


    Your theory sounds good – but what if we Indians are more corrupt due to our culture? i.e. what if the western concept of ‘corruption’ breeds from our way of life?

    Part of America doing what they do may have to do with their situation, culture and people.

    I don’t see what you mean by education and rationalization. The most educated and seemingly rational person in India may be very corrupt seen from a Western lens. However he may be a solid person for people of his family, caste and language. He will protect them from the endless cycle of poverty etc. or at least appear to do so.

    The self-awareness to shut off corruption for a critical mass in India, if it ever comes, will happen in its own time and accord – short terms solutions wouldn’t make much impact. Till this happens, fatalism in moderation might make life seem better than it actually is.

  13. Faldo Says:

    The ex-CVC’s remarks seem like a generalization but there is no doubt that corruption has invaded all spheres of life in India and needs to be curbed. However, this needs to be seen in a clearer context. One needs to be a bit more specific about what type of corruption is being talked about. At a high level, corruption can occur when someone is willing to pay for services (payer induced) or when somebody demands a benefit to provide a service.

    When the ex CVC states that corruption has gained more acceptability, the assumption is that he means more people are willing to pay for services outside of the regular channels. This is bad but we can be optimistic that with better distribution systems and with the benefits of the economic liberalization reaching more people this could be minimized. The increase in supply of many essential services, better technology and more transparency can give us a great opportunity to fight this kind of corruption.

    The other kind of corruption, where somebody receives a benefit that is not reasonable or legally permissible, to provide a service is more dangerous. This needs to be curbed at all levels. In fact, reducing this kind of corruption can discourage payer induced corruption.

    @Narayana – I agree with your points 1, 3 ( to some extent) and 5. Great analysis. I also concur with you that corruption should be seen more as a systemic failure than just an issue of ethics. However, I feel points 2 and 4 seem more like silver bullets. These could give rise to their own set of problems.
    Speedy trials are certainly welcome but could result in many wrong convictions and can cause people to lose faith. Rather, the law enforcement process needs to be improved. Food stamps are also not without issues. In the US, food stamps have resulted in fraud, difficult paperwork and require verification of information to ensure that the beneficiaries are eligible.

  14. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    AG does not matter. Learn to live with his comments.

    So corruption is our Bhasmasura and we need a Mohini to come along to get his place his palm on his own head.

  15. Narayana Says:

    Faldo.. Thanks for feedback.. Churumuri has excellent readership and I want to explain what I meant by “right to speedy trial” to this learned readership.. because.. who knows.. some of you may pull the right levers in India to get us into the right place in the encomium of nations.

    I too had very similar doubts like you regarding quality of justice if we speed up the trial.. .. but got convinced that “absence of right to speedy trial” is the most aggravating factor contributing to our collective failure.. Let me elucidate.

    When I say right to speedy trial I do not mean kangaroo court. I mean the case should come to trial before the expiration of 1/5th of the maximum time the offense could get charged and trial should get over within 2/5th of the maximum time. If a person is charged for an offence that can land him behind bars for five years.. his trial should start within a year and trial should get over within 2 years…

    What if the justice is faulty in a speedy trial?
    There is always an appeal process. If the trial is faulty there are legal recourse to be employed. In the current system we have no possibility of getting justice if the justice is faulty. We get primary court delivering verdict after 25-50 years of court fights.. Do you think one life time is enough to get justice in India.. what if the judgement itself is erroneous.. like in Bhopal case…. When we introduce “Right to speedy trial” as in USA things will fall in place..Further right to speedy trial also removes the scope of errors because unlike current system it will have lesser fatigue in litigants, lesser disappearing witnesses, lesser memory lapses due to transfer of law enforcement,lesser time spent on education of judge and jury on the case…and so on..
    Go to Indian jails and see what is the problem there. It is overcrowding of jails because of huge number of undertrials. We have undertrials languishing in jails for 20-25 years on cases where sentencing could not have been more than a year. Right to speedy trial is most urgent need for this nation..Yes we may get an occassional incorrect judgement.. But appeal process should take care of it.

    Most of the recent media highlighted miscarriage of justice is a result of too slow a trial and not because of hasty trials.

    But more than this there is a very important link to good governance and “speedy trial”. It is a very beautiful side effect. In India criminalization of politics is a symptom of too slow trials. If we use the market theory.. there is a need for speedy trial which is currently not being provided by courts.. and hence people are going to criminal elements for justice and that is how the parallel justice dispensation of “bhai” log got started and in no time criminals have become our justices and politics has got criminalized .. I will explain this in a blog post later. But believe me “right to speedy trial ” is the most important tool in changing the culture of India.

    @Anonymous Guy

    There is nothing wrong in the core values of our culture. But culture itself is a set of learned values and learning happens constantly.Learned value in last two generations has been that you go scotfree when you loot public money. Generally cultures evolve around systems and intelligent designs of systems can constrain the how culture gets defined later on. In case of India that intelligence to apply system solutions is totally absent.. and that has resulted in culture getting redefined..
    In other words.. systems of 1950s bred those chickens who have come home now to roost!!!.
    Right to speedy trial is not a silver bullet.. When you implement this after one generation probably our value system gets corrected back to where it was earlier!!!.

  16. Anonymous Guy Says:


    Firstly please understand, I dont mean to deride your analysis in anyway – they are always well thought out and excellent.

    But I have to express my pessimism, based on reality in India.

    I cant seem to agree with some of your assertions e.g. that the core values in our culture are not wrong. If that was so – why is the life of the majority of people in India in a mess when compared to other countries? What is the core values in our culture which are right for a majority of the people?

    More so, I cant seem to agree with your assertion that our value system ‘will get corrected to where it was earlier’.

    What earlier value system are you referring to? One where 5% or less of the population took decisions and the rest just agreed or more likely didn’t even understand what was happening. One where the vast majority kept quiet and accepted the humiliating lives they led from fear of their superiors or just acceptance of their fate? In that case, you didnt even need speedy trials – people accepted their shitty lives due to ignorance.

    Sure, social justice and a speedy, just trial is one the requirements for majority of Indians to live a better life. But how will that happen when it goes against the grain of the way we think and lead our lives? Our sense of fair-play and justice has more to do with family, caste, religious and linguistic ties as compared to what an American or European would call justice. Honesty, keeping up one’s word, equality of humans mean different things to us than it does to them. A speedy, just trial from European style courts happening all over the country is hard to imagine.

    For most of us the constitution and the laws contained within come very low in the order of importance. Majority dont even have the tools to be aware of what is written in the constitution regarding what are our rights and our duties. Courts are just one of the things which exist in the jungle law of Indian life. And something which they cant even relate to (unlike a village panchayat).

    Added to this, as Aldous Huxley wrote years ago, it still seems we Indians are like the old man of Thermopylae who could never do anything properly (without help from others).

    In this situation, I dont see how plans and policies towards a speedy trial could be implemented outside of internet forums and newspaper articles.

    Would like to hear thoughts you have on this.

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