Transparency International

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union


Please provide an overview of corruption and anti-corruption developments in India.


Once regarded as the world's largest democracy, the success of India's democratic performance stands at a crossroads with increasing restrictions on fundamental freedoms and a crackdown on those speaking against the government. Corruption remains an endemic problem that affects various areas in the public and private sectors, including institutions such as the police and judiciary, while affecting all levels of governance. The vast majority of human rights abuses in the country are enabled via a corrupt environment. The government has crippled critical law enforcement and accountability institutions at the central and the state level by the twin devices of amending the anti-corruption laws to curb their effectiveness, functional autonomy and politicising the appointments to human rights commissions, information commissions and anti-corruption agencies like Lokpal and Lokayuktas. Systemic corruption has resulted in the curbing of voices of dissent raised by anti-corruption campaigners, transparency and accountability advocates and human rights activists. Journalists reporting corruption are particularly at risk in an increasingly curtailed civic space.


  1. Background
  2. Extent of corruption
  3. Forms of corruption
  4. Corruption and human rights
  5. Legal framework
  6. Institutional framework
  7. Other stakeholders
  8. References

Main points

  • Corruption remains an endemic problem for India, pervading all levels of governance.
  • The violation of human rights in the Indian context is enabled by corruption, with the government using its control over key institutions, including but not limited to the police and judiciary, to silence dissent.
  • Key anti-corruption legislation, such as the right to information and the Lokpal and Lokayukta laws, have been undermined in recent times.
  • Accountability institutions are being strategically subverted.
  • Media and CSOs face increasing pressures from incumbent powers to toe their line or simply shut down.


Kaunain Rahman, [email protected]


Venkatesh Nayak, Transparency Advocate and Human Rights Activist based in New Delhi and Ilham Mohamed, Transparency International



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