India has emerged as the country with the highest bribery rate of 39% in the Asian region, according to a survey by global civil society organisation Transparency International. India also has the most number of people who use personal connections to get access to public services.

“India has the highest overall bribery rate (39%) and highest rate of citizens using personal connections (46%),” the report tiled Global Corruption Barometer – Asia said. “Following India, Indonesia and China have the second and third highest rates of people using personal connections (36% and 32% respectively).”

Nearly 50% of people who paid bribes in India were asked for it, and 32% who used personal connections said they would not get the services without it.

Meanwhile, in Japan, only 4% of people who accessed public services used their personal associations, and the rate was 6% in Cambodia. “While results show that the police have the highest bribery rate (23%) and are the public service most likely to demand and receive bribes, our report shows that courts have a higher use of personal connections,” the report noted.

Out of those surveyed in India, 42% paid bribes to the police, 42% used money to procure documents, and 38% paid money for court matters. A worrying aspect of the report was that while reporting corruption, at least 63% of the participants said they feared retaliation, reported The Times of India.

The survey saw the participation of 20,000 people from 17 countries, and was conducted between June and September on experiences with corruption in one year. Six main public services were covered in the report – courts, the police, public medical facilities, and acquiring identification documents.

Last year, the survey found that fewer Indians had paid bribes in one year. The percentage of respondents who admitted to paying a bribe was 51% in 2019, as compared to 56% in the 2018 survey. However, the figure for 2019 was higher than that for 2017, when it was 45%.

In August, the Supreme Court had decided to launch a probe into the circumstances under which a person can make public allegations of corruption against the judiciary.

In September 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised a “corruption-free government”, and had claimed to launch a massive crackdown on corruption.