Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011
Originally published on January 12, 2011
I Paid a Bribe is a recently launched online tool that strives to change the perception of corruption and move citizens from apathy to action. Its goal is to “uncover the market price of corruption” by encouraging victims to report on incidences when they have been forced to pay a bribe, when they have resisted a demand for a bribe, or when they didn’t have to pay a bribe because of honest officers on duty or improvements in law or procedures. The format for reporting is compartmentalized in a manner that allows both the viewers and the host organization of the website to observe the nature, pattern, types and distribution of bribes across cities and government departments in India.
Citizens can submit the report through telephone calls, blog posts, audio/video recordings or by simply following the format in the website.  As explained in Global Voices , the information obtained from these processes are aggregated and analyzed to identify more corrupt departments, loopholes used by officials to demand bribes and situations in which bribes are demanded. Janaagraha,  the host organization of the website, intends to use the collated information “to argue for improving governance systems and procedures, tightening law enforcement and regulation, thereby reducing the scope for corruption in obtaining services from the government.”
Features such as ‘Frequently Asked Questions ,’ ‘Discussion Forum ,’ and ‘Ask Raghu ’ in the website allow citizens to interact with hosts as well as with one another to share and exchange information on procedures, fees and time required to obtain services in specific sectors or government departments. The information garnered in this process is intended to boost citizens’ confidence in obtaining services without succumbing tobribes. The ‘impact’ section mentions case stories where information on the website has been used to take corrective measures. One striking example is that of a Transport commissioner, who requested Janaagraha (the host of the website) to give him a list of complaints against his department, and issued show-cause notices to 20 seniors officers based on the location of the bribe paid.
In this process, the initiative is not only harnessing the collective energy of the citizens but also changing norms. Given that the initiative was launched only recently (August 2010), its full potential has yet to be realized. It is going to be a fascinating experiment to watch in the coming months and years to come.
Photo Credit: Jaydeep Chakraborty (Flickr)