Raising awareness of corruption.By Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy
Bribery is endemic in India, widely regarded as an additional tax, paid in cash to public officials. The traffic police might take 400 rupees from someone who does not have their driving licence. Customs officers could insist a special form needs to be paid for to allow a television to be brought into the country. A local official could refuse permission for a new toilet to be built until he is paid a fee. Poorly paid and predatory public servants use impenetrable and confusing bureaucratic systems to extort money from citizens, often for services that they are entitled to. Corruption and bureaucracy go hand in hand: the more hoops someone is made to jump through, the more opportunities there are for officials to take a cut.
I Paid a Bribe.com was created in 2010 to bring bribe paying in India out into the open, by mobilising the collective intelligence and energy of citizens to report bribes they have paid, by filling out a simple online form. The site does not name the officials involved; all reports are anonymous.
The aim is to create an unfolding picture of how public officials prey on the citizens they are meant to serve, especially the poor, to change public perceptions. I Paid a Bribe has become a discussion forum in which people share tips on how to avoid paying bribes by becoming better informed about the regulations they are dealing with.
The site’s bribe trends database shows data on more than 17,000 bribes, paid in 515 Indian cities, mainly in very small amounts. From that it calculates the going rate for corruption in different places and shows the cities where active citizens are most likely to report bribe taking: Bangalore is well out in the lead.
The site has already spread to six other countries, from Kenya to Greece, and is about to launch in 10 more including Mexico, Brazil and Italy. I Paid a Bribe is a way for citizens suffering from endemic corruption to bring it out into the open, support one another and to find a voice together.
Image © Can Stock Photo Inc. / gigisomplak
Last updated: 09th of May, 2014