Corruption Perceptions Index 2018: Corruption leads to a global crisis of democracy

This year’s Corruption Perception Index* (CPI) analyses perceived corruption levels in relation to crisis in democracy around the world and how both are intertwined. Corruption continues to be a significant obstacle to the economic growth of countries though they may have different levels of democracy – be it autocratic nations or full democracies.

Key statistics of the Corruption Perceptions Index 2018

  • Denmark and New Zealand top the index with scores of 88 and 87 respectively
  • Syria, South Sudan and Somalia are at the bottom of the index with scores of 13, 13 and 10 respectively

India moved up by three points in the global corruption perceptions index 2018. It scored 41 in 2018 as against 40 in 2017.

Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption-Transparency International

To comprehend the reciprocal effect that corruption and democracy have on each other, it is pertinent to understand the pillars of democracy.

Regional perspective of the index

Steps taken by India to strengthen democracy and combat corruption

India has observed a slight improvement in the ranking in Corruption Perception Index in 2018. Further, India’s score in 2018 have moved up from 40 to 41. Below are the steps initiated by India for combating corruption:

1. Empowering regulators and institutions

In recent years, amendments in the Indian legislative framework have empowered various regulatory bodies with the aim of building more transparent governance structures in the country. For instance,

  • Recently, SEBI made amendments to the Prohibition of Insider Trading Regulations which included definition of legitimate purpose for information sharing, maintenance of database containing names of entities/ individuals with whom Unpublished Price Sensitive Information can be shared.
  • SFIO has been given powers to make arrest in case of frauds and request look-out circulars against loan defaulters.

2. Strengthened legislation and enforcement of laws

Significant amendments to legislation and enforcements have been undertaken such as the changes to the Prevention of Corruption Act which now includes bribe-giving as an offence, corporates within its ambit and has defined a timeline for trials.

The recently enacted Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 which aims to confiscate properties and assets of economic offenders who seek to avoid prosecution by staying outside India, has already seen its first case of an individual being declared as a fugitive economic offender.

3. Active space for media, press, activists, citizens etc. to raise issues resulting in action by regulators and governments.

4. Continued crackdown on errant government officials and measures to hold government bodies accountable for actions.

With India at a crucial inflection point due to upcoming general elections, continued and sustained momentum is needed in terms of strengthening laws and appropriate enforcements against the same thus helping to bring culmination efforts that been taken in last few years.

*Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) published by Transparency International is an index which measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption and ranks countries based on the score on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).