One in three Indians ‘utterly corrupt’ says watchdog head

NEW DELHI, September 8, 2010 (AFP) – Almost one-third of Indians are “utterly corrupt” and half are “borderline”, the outgoing head of the country’s corruption watchdog has said, blaming increased wealth for much of the problem. Pratyush Sinha, who retired as India’s Central Vigilance Commissioner this week, said the worst part of his “thankless job” was observing how corruption had increased as people became more materialistic.

“When we were growing up I remember if somebody was corrupt, they were generally looked down upon,” he said. “There was at least some social stigma attached to it. That is gone. So there is greater social acceptance.”

Transparency International, the global anti-graft body, puts India 84th on its corruption perception index with a 3.4-point rating, out of a best possible score of 10.

New Zealand ranks first with 9.4 points and Somalia last on 1.1 points.

The campaign group has said that each year millions of poor Indian families have to bribe officials for access to basic public services.

Sinha told the Mint newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday that 20 percent of Indians were “honest, regardless of the temptations, because this is how they are. They have a consci