India’s Corruption Problem


by Sudhanshu Roy    18 November 2023

In the complex tapestry of India’s political landscape, the BJP government’s narrative of a “shining and progressing India” hides a darker truth—a surge in corruption that extends its tendrils into the very heart of the nation. This not only poses a grave threat to the democratic principles upon which India was founded but also casts a long shadow over the nation’s economic prospects, affecting multinational companies and foreign direct investment. It is imperative to delve deeper into the labyrinth of corruption, expose its multifaceted nature, and understand the far-reaching implications for India on the global stage.

The visible decline in India’s corruption perception, dropping from the 78th position in 2012 to 85th in 2022 on Transparency International’s index, should serve as a clarion call for introspection. The prolonged rule of the BJP has led to a concentration of power, enabling collusions with criminal elements, a stark reality highlighted by the Indian Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). The repercussions of this deterioration in perception reverberate beyond domestic borders, influencing the confidence of multinational corporations and foreign investors.

The surge in corruption is not confined to statistical indices; it is a lived reality evidenced by a 47% increase in corruption cases investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) between 2012 and 2022. The high-profile nature of these cases, ranging from the Jet Airways Bank Fraud investigation to the arrest of Delhi’s Ex Deputy CM for bribery related to liquor licenses, underscores the pervasive nature of corruption across various sectors. These instances not only erode public trust but also pose a significant threat to the economic stability of the nation.

The alleged nexus between Prime Minister Modi and the Adani Group has emerged as a central concern, raising questions about the intertwining of political power and corporate interests. Reports suggesting government protection of the Adani Group, coupled with investigations by regulatory bodies like the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the US Department of Justice, demand meticulous scrutiny. The potential global implications of such a nexus could tarnish India’s reputation in the eyes of the international business community, affecting foreign investments and collaborations.

The intertwining of politics, criminality, and corruption is an alarming revelation. Among the 385 BJP MPs, a staggering 139 are embroiled in criminal cases, while 14 MPs boast assets exceeding 100 crores. This nexus not only challenges the ethical standards within the ruling party but also raises questions about the democratic governance of the nation. Addressing this web of corruption within political circles is crucial for restoring the faith of the people in the democratic process.

External reports, such as Oxfam’s 2023 study, further illuminate the wealth disparities within India. The report indicates that 40% of the nation’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a mere 1% of the population from 2012 to 2021. Furthermore, India’s 10th position on the Crony Capitalism Index, with close-knit businesses amassing wealth equivalent to 8% of the nation’s GDP, points to a system where economic opportunities are disproportionately distributed. This not only stifles the nation’s economic potential but also hampers social progress.

The non-transparent environment fostered by this surge in corruption is not merely a domestic concern. It has far-reaching global ramifications, impacting foreign direct investment and discouraging international businesses from engaging with India. This corrosive influence not only impedes economic growth but also erodes trust in India’s business practices. As multinational corporations assess their involvement in the Indian market, the urgency of addressing corruption becomes paramount for the nation’s economic rejuvenation.

As corruption continues to tighten its grip on the nation, the call for transparency, accountability, and ethical governance becomes increasingly urgent. The surge in corruption cases, the alleged Modi-Adani Corruption Nexus, and the intricate web of pol-criminal-corruption connections demand comprehensive and immediate action. The restoration of India’s image as a bastion of democracy and economic opportunity requires not just domestic efforts but also international scrutiny and cooperation. Only through a collective commitment to transparency and ethical governance can India emerge from the shadows of corruption and regain its standing as a trustworthy and transparent player on the global economic stage.