Thursday, January 26, 2012


A rural dweller has no choice but to embrace corruption!

There is no denial to the fact that corruption has mired almost all levels of our society. Today, it has become an undetachable part of the Indian social system. Unlike other social malaises, the impact of corruption increases as one moves down the social ladder. This is evident from the gory picture of our rural heartland that speaks volumes about endemic corruption which hinders its well being. Every year several development projects, worth billions of rupees are rolled-down. But as always a huge fraction of these allocations are siphoned away by a chain of village and block officials.

Absenteeism of doctors coupled with disgraceful and appalling condition of the hospitals have further worsened the scenario of corruption cases in the healthcare industry. As much as 40 per cent of the doctors and nurses remain absent in hospitals in India, according to the report submitted by the inspectors who visit public health centers. The figure is even worse than Bangladesh (absenteeism of medical officers is 35 per cent) or even impoverished African nations like Uganda (with 37 per cent absenteeism). There is hardly any accountability when reasons for absenteeism are sought.

A study in Rajasthan reveals that less than 25 per cent of the medical visits take place in government dispensaries. And so the quacks are omnipresent in rural areas with 41 per cent of medical practitioners are without a valid degree, 20 percent have no proper training, and most astonishingly 17 per cent did not even qualify their secondary level. The economic loss for absenteeism of doctors and nurses makes up for a staggering $1.54 billion. This money otherwise could have been put to some other better use like developing state-of-art health care facilities across the country.

Even NREGA, which is meant for the poor people, is tainted with corruption charges where actually the most deprived doesn’t get the job. Surveys conducted by various social audit firms reveal that the non-poor gets jobs more readily than the down trodden. The low level of literacy among the most deprived makes them susceptible to corruption because of the lack of information available to them. According to the former secretary of Planning Commission, NC Saxena, even when the poor gets the job it is never for 100 days as is prescribed under the Act. The average work duration under NREGA is 42 days. However, in the fudged roster it is shown that they have worked for the minimum stipulated period as the remaining pay off s are eaten up by the block officials or Panchayat leaders.

According to a survey conducted by Transparency International which covered as many as 20 states, Indians, on an average, spend approximately Rs.21,068 as bribe while availing at least one of the 11 public services under Public Distribution System. Further, even though government claims that ration shops cater to 16 percent of the population in reality supplies to only 10 per cent of the target audience. According to CMC India Corruption Study 2010, almost 29 per cent of the rural populace is forced to pay bribe to avail public services. Be it food or employment, in almost all aspects of the basic livelihood, a rural dweller has to dole out money to avail these services. Most of the time, the money meant for their development is redirected to the coffers of power. Ironically, something that remains a choice for others, albeit, for not so poor ones.


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