India improved its ranking and climbed three positions to 78 in a global corruption index last year, according to the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2018, which was released on Tuesday.

Denmark topped the index, with 88 points. It was followed by New Zealand, with 87 points and Finland with 85. Sudan was the worst with a score of 10 points, while Somalia and Syria followed it up with 13 points each. Overall, more than two-thirds of the 180 countries scored below 50 in the index, with an average score of only 43. India, with 41 points, was below the average.

“As India gears up for its upcoming elections, we see little significant movement in its CPI score, which moved from 40 in 2017 to 41 in 2018,” said the global watchdog. “Despite spectacular public mobilisation in 2011, where citizens demanded that the government take action against corruption and advocated for the passage of the comprehensive Jan Lokpal Act, these efforts ultimately fizzled and fell flat, with little to no movement on the ground to build the specialist anti-corruption infrastructure required.”

Neighbours China and Pakistan ranked below India, at 87th and 117th spots, respectively.

The watchdog listed both India and Pakistan among the countries to watch in Asia, along with Malaysia and the Maldives. It said despite encouraging developments in terms of new governments and anti-corruption reforms, “we are yet to see how they translate into solid action, especially when it comes to combating elusive forms of grand corruption”.

The Asia-Pacific region included top performers like New Zealand in the second spot, with a score of 87 points, Singapore at third with 85 points, Australia at 13th with 77 points, and Japan at 18th with 73 points.

Credit: Transparency International

Other global top performers were Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany. The best performer in South America was Uruguay, ranked 23rd with a score of 70, while Botswana in Africa came out on top in 34th place, scoring 61 points.

For the first time since 2011, the United States dropped out of the top 20 countries on the index. The country lost four points since last year and came in 22nd, scoring 71 points. Along with the Czech Republic and Brazil, the watchdog has listed US as the countries to monitor.

Brazil dropped two points since last year to 35, also earning its lowest CPI score in seven years. “Alongside promises to end corruption, the country’s new president [Jair Bolsonaro] has made it clear that he will rule with a strong hand, threatening many of the democratic milestones achieved by the country,” said the report.

Transparency International said its analysis showed a clear link between having a healthy democracy and fighting public sector corruption. “Corruption is much more likely to flourish where democratic foundations are weak and, as we have seen in many countries, where undemocratic and populist politicians can use it to their advantage,” said Chairperson Delia Ferreira Rubio.

Credit: Transparency International