Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Crowdsourcing The Fight Against Corruption

India is a nation famed, if that's the word, for official corruption -- the oppressive bureaucracy is made worse by the expectation that every single useful thing you want them to do comes at an extra-legal price.

Official attempts to control corruption are, as everywhere, useless.

But the Web changes everything. Someone set up a site where Indians can report examples of bribes requested, bribes paid, bribes refused. It is described in a BBC News piece title "Bribery in India: A Website for Whistleblowers," by Mukti Jain Campion, at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13616123 . The site they refer to is called I PAID A BRIBE, at http://www.ipaidabribe.com/ . There you can, anonymously of course, Tell Your Bribe story (and flag it as 'I Paid a Bribe,' 'I Didn't Pay a Bribe,' and "I Didn't Have to Pay A Bribe.'). It makes fascinating reading.

It's slowly having some effect. The driving test unit in one Indian state was notorious for demanding bribes (and not correctly testing drivers, so bad drives were getting licenses - a double wrong). The embarrassment caused by the reports o I Paid A Bribe forced the unit to implement the world's first automated driving test center, where your skill at driving the course is monitored and reported by machines rather than bribe-hungry officials.

Fascinating stuff!

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