From registering your house to getting a driving licence, from applying for a water connection to acquiring birth or even death certificates, a countless number of us have fed the corrupt system to speed up processes at one point or the other.
Be it the traffic cop at the corner of the road or the authorities in government offices; local corruption has sunk so deep that none of us flinches before flipping out a Rs 100 or Rs 500 note to sweep matters under the carpet.
Most of us continue to wallow and rant about the rampant corruption without doing anything substantial to stop it. But an innovative anti-corruption platform called IPaidABribe.com, run by Bengaluru-based non-profit Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, is striving to eliminate corruption.
Launched in 2010, IPaidABribe even won the International Anti-Corruption Excellence (ACE) Award 2017 at the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG) on December 8, 2017.
It started off as an initiative by Swati and Ramesh Ramanathan to grasp the climate of retail bribery, or as their motto says ‘uncover the market price of corruption’ across the country.
Today it is helping citizens tackle corruption by openly discussing bribery instances on one platform.
This platform allows you not only to report bribes you have paid but also gives you to get an understanding about the nature, number, pattern, types, location, frequency and value of actual corrupt acts across your city, state and the country as a whole.
Its win in the ‘anti-corruption innovation’ category is well earned because it not only facilitates citizens to report instances corruption but also allows them to report instances where they refused to pay a bribe.
In fact, several users have come forward share stories of when they met an honest officer who helped them out too.
Apart from 15 million visits, the website has recorded 152941 bribery-related cases in 1072 cities – accounting for a whopping Rs 2875.48 crore in bribes. While the number of people who have paid bribes is 36526, bribe fighters account for 3217. And till date, people have written stories of encountering over 1056 honest officers who helped them.
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The aim of the platform is to utilise this information to suggest reforms in governance systems and procedures, to tighten law enforcement and ultimately eliminate corruption to allow the common man to access government services smoothly.
Speaking to The Better India, Sylvia Veeraraghavan (from Janaagraha), who is currently heading IPaidABribe.com, said, “Initially most of the users would report bribery-related instances anonymously. But when we received multiple requests from the same users, who didn’t only want to share their story but also wanted to take the people who asked them for bribes to task for redressal, we brought about a major change. We mobilised citizens to get rid of the anonymity, come clean with their identity and share their details with us, so we could send their reports to the concerned vigilante officials to take it further.”
IPaidABribe.com also has two ex-government officials on board, namely Dr Malati Das, Former IAS Officer & Chief Secretary Planning & Statistics, Government of Karnataka and Dr ST Ramesh, Former DG & IG of Police, Government of Karnataka. They look at various reports from the state after analysis and investigation, sign it off and send it to different government groups for redressal.
Going further, they now use the same data to make detailed recommendations on how the government can eliminate avenues of corruption. As their data bank grows, the platform is bringing about process reforms to help clean up the system.
Apart from the above, the website provides users with ‘how to’ guides on various queries related to passport applications, railways, food, civil supplies and consumer affairs, income tax, municipal services, revenue, and the police department.
“We believe one of the prime reasons why people engage in corruption is because they are unaware of how to go about these processes. While there is certainly a section who wants to take a shortcut to get things done, there is also a majority who agree to give bribes because they are clueless about what documents need to be in place or what steps are to be taken systematically to get their work done and so we use these ‘how to’ guides to educate them,” says Sylvia.
The model, apart from being lauded across India, has inspired people beyond the shores to replicate the model in over 30 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and North America.
Do you want to report your bribery-related story, visit their website here.
The website also mentions a bribe hotline number that you can reach out to 112200 and gives you a state-wise breakup of cases reported too.
For any more queries reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.