Sanjay Kumar, New Delhi
The health service is the most corrupt service sector in India, as gauged by people’s actual experiences, according to a new survey released by the India office of the international non-governmental organisation Transparency International. It ranks India as one of the 30 most corrupt countries in the world.
The survey, conducted with private marketing research company ORG-Marg Research, interviewed some 5000 citizens in a household survey to assess the public’s perception of corruption. It covered 10 sectors with a direct bearing on people’s lives, including education, health, the police, the judiciary, and power utilities.
While the respondents rated the police as the most corrupt sector, followed by health, power, and education, the impact of corruption is on a much larger scale in the health and education sectors, says the report. A quarter of the respondents had paid bribes for health services, compared with 18% in the power sector.
Payment to staff to gain admission to hospital is the commonest corrupt practice in health care. Such payments are higher in southern India. "The key actors leading to corruption in this sector across zones are allegedly doctors (77%) followed closely by hospital staff (67%)," says the report.
"These revelations are a cause of serious concern for the whole country, as two thirds of the 19.3 million public servants are involved in these 10 sectors, said R H Tahiliani, chairman of Transparency International in India. The impact of corruption on the poor is profound, given their lower earnings, although the total amount paid is higher among the rich, says the report.
"The fact that money is being demanded directly and openly by the corrupt is a clear indication that the corrupt persons are confident that no worthwhile action will be taken against them," said Transparency International. It advocates adoption of instruments such as citizens’ charters, people’s ombudsmen in government departments, and greater use of e-technology.