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Has corruption haunted India's growth?

What is corruption? This question has become more important in the wake of Anna's cry for Jan Lokpal to curb corruption. Can corruption be defined? Corruption has different connotations for different people. However, in general terms it is stated as an act of bribing someone to gain some benefits which may be lawful or unlawful. As a popular saying goes that before you have to pay bribe to get wrong thing done but today you have to pay for getting right things done at the right time. Corruption has become so pervasive that some people take it as an accepted way of life. The prevention of corruption act1988 defines corruption on taking gratification other than the legal remuneration in respect of an official act. Corruption can be defined as misuse of public funds for private.. Corruption may be attributed to plethora of reasons like acts of commission and omission or delay, exercise or discretion as violation of rules.

Though India has been hailed as a rising economic power in recent times, attracting FDIs (Foreign Direct Investments) from all over the world, the picture is not very rosy. The rampant corruption prevailing in the country in all the spheres is posing a threat to India's growth story. As corruption is directly linked to the economy, it can have disastrous effect on India's economy. Slower growth means the fight against poverty will slow as number of jobs will be reduced. According to a report India tops the list of black money in the entire world with almost US$$1456 billion in Swiss bank. However 80%of Indians earns less than Rs 5 per day. Alleged tax evader Hasan Ali Khan (supposedly an associate of gangster Dawood Ibrahim) allegedly illicitly placed US$8 billion in UBS AB Zurich bank. In his short tenure, Madhu Koda, the then chief minister of Jharkhand allegedly siphoned off about US$1 billion. In 2011, India ranked 95th of of183 countries in transparency international corruption perception index. The major reason behind India's low scoring is big corruption scandals, like the Commonwealth Games and the 2G telecom scam.

Corruption has destabilized India's growth and will continue to do so unless some strict action is taken. Private investments in India are slowing down due to corruption prevalent in the country. Some of the foreign companies as well as India have shifted their bases outside India or are planning to go out. Inflation has also become a major problem even after RBI has raised interest several times to curb it. In the recent 2G telecom scam, India's loss is estimated to be approximately US$39 billion. Unless the markets get the required assurance that allocation of funds will be swift, efficient and fair, the process of investment will be slow. Politicians should also take responsibility in checking corruption in order to avoid debacle like Enron the power sector in Maharashtra. The project which was not deemed economic viable by the World Bank which denied financial help to it was granted permission by India ignoring the protests against unpopular power project. Even the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme (MGNREGA) is not free of corruption as some audit reports that in some states only a small percentage of allocated funds reach to the original workers. Corruption does not only affect the parties involved in the scandal but also public at large. A corrupt official will result in delay of schemes intended for the benefits of general public in pressure of a company or any other person who are seeking to get private benefit from the projects. This will result in vicious circle of poverty as the poor are most affected by corruption.

If India has to fight poverty and achieve a sustainable growth rate, it should take proper anti corruption measures and enforce them strictly. Though corruption cannot be eradicated permanently, proper checks and balances will ensure India's rise as economic powerhouse and future development.

Shruti Roy

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