Since 1991, economic liberalisation in India has reduced red tape and bureaucracy, supported the transition towards a market economy and transformed the economy, with record growth rates of 9.2% in 2007 and 9.6% in 2006.
However, though the Indian economy has become the 6th largest in the world, its growth has been uneven across social and economic groups, with sections of society experiencing some of the highest levels of poverty in the world. Endemic corruption contributes to this uneven distribution of wealth. The cost of corruption, perceptible in public sector inefficiencies and inadequate infrastructure, is undermining efforts to reduce poverty and promote sustainable growth.
Major scandals involving high level public officials have shaken the Indian public service in recent years, with politicians and public servants regularly caught accepting bribes or mismanaging public resources.
This suggests corruption has become a pervasive aspect of Indian politics and bureaucracy. A report by Global Integrity provides an overview of the major corruption scandals that have hit the headlines over the past years, including:
September 2000: Former Prime Minister Rao was convicted of criminal conspiracy and corruption in the 1993 votebuying scandal and became the first Indian Prime Minister to be convicted in a criminal case. He was acquitted on appeal, however, in March 2002.
March 2001: Following the release by an Indian news website of a videotape showing 31 politicians, high level officials, bureaucrats and army officials taking bribes, the Defence Minister and leaders of the ruling BJP party were forced to resign. Four defence ministry officials were also suspended.
September 2005: Former Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav was charged with misappropriating state funds in the long running “fodder scam” while he was the Bihar Chief Minister and of embezzling over US$ 40 million in state funds intended for the purchase of animal fodder. In total, 170 persons were charged in connection with this scandal.
In January 2006: A reporter in Assam writing articles accusing local forestry service officials of having links to timber smuggling was murdered.
In March 2006: The BJP’s alleged corruption in a military contract to buy six submarines from two French companies, claiming that the government overpaid by approximately US$ 113 million and used the excess to pay middle men that helped secure the deal.
In January 2009: Satyam Computer Services Ltd was barred by the World Bank from bidding for contracts for eight years and top officials were arrested after a major financial fraud over several years was disclosed.
In August 2010: The IPL scam and Madhu Koda Scam early this year and now Common Wealth Games Scam.