State University of New York Institute of Technology
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Blog 4

World-Press Scrutinizes Bribery in India

A senior finance official says legalizing paying a bribe to a public official — if the official extorted the money — would encourage those who are victimized to report the crime; in related news, a new Indian website allows people to document bribery … or simply vent


One of India’s top economic advisers last week issued an unusual recommendation to improve transparency in government, saying that certain bribes should be made legal.

London’s Daily Telegraph reports that India’s minister of finance, Kaushik Basu, only wants to decriminalize a specific type of bribe, typically called a “harassment bribe,” where officials demand below-the-table cash for performing their official functions.

According to the Hindu, Basu says that because paying a harassment bribe is illegal, both sides have an interest in keeping it quiet.

Reports the BBC’s Soutik Biswas: “At a time when India is fiercely debating corruption after being hit by an avalanche of scandals, Prof. Basu’s radical prescription has predictably kicked up a storm. India’s communist politicians — usually suspicious about new ideas — have trashed it as a ‘dangerous and unethical proposal.’ ‘Making it legal to pay bribes,’ said a communist functionary, ‘would undermine the values of honesty and integrity. Indeed, it would make people who don’t pay bribes look like fools.’”

In related news, the Associated Press reports that a new website is allowing Indians to vent about the bribery epidemic. is an outlet for mounting frustration in a society experiencing logarithmic economic growth while being stuck with a primitive regulatory infrastructure.

The AP reports that, in its eight months of existence, the site has documented about $8 million in bribes, with the largest number paid to police.


I don't think that they should be allowed to pay bribes.  It makes it unfair to people who can not afford bribes. This will only increase the gap between the rich and the poor. The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.  This is not a good approach to allow people to pay others in order not to do something or to be able to get away with something.  This will also hurt the government, because as it says that police are the ones being bribed the most, people are paying the police to let them go or to get away with something illegal.  This can only cause more problems for India.

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