India: ACT - Against Corruption Today

'When I did not perform well in my driving test, the Regional Transport Office asked me for a bribe to clear my test. I didn't pay a bribe and instead took the driving test again and got cleared the second time." - Prita, Bangalore

'When I needed to get my passport, I went for my police verification where some of the officials opened a drawer and asked me to put 200 rupees there. I refused to pay the amount as my conscience did not allow me to pay these police officers who were only doing their duty. I did not face any problem in receiving my passport.' - Shiva Vashisht, Kalyan, Maharashtra

'I work in real estate firm in Mumbai and in a sector which is worst hit by corruption. It is very difficult to carry out any construction work in the city even though you may have valid permissions from concerned authorities.' - Pradeep, Mumbai

A small group of voices against corruption made themselves heard during an online contest launched on 9th December 2011, International Anti Corruption Day. The contest was part of the 'ACT Against Corruption Today' online information campaign launched by UNODC Regional Office for South Asia, UNDP India, the UN Millennium Campaign together with - a well known internet based citizen driven mechanism for tracking bribe payment activity. The initiative, was part of the global UNDP-UNODC 'ACT' campaign, aimed at raising public awareness about how corruption affects different aspects of life and also highlighting the significance of the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which India ratified in May 2011.

The campaign microsite was hosted on the website. It features a number of anti-corruption knowledge products such as the ACT campaign posters and videos, expert blogs, a special flyer focussing on the highlights of the UNCAC and a poster on 'The 10 commandments of not paying a bribe'. A short video bringing together citizens' perceptions of corruption was specially prepared for the campaign. The campaign also carried a 'Test your Corruption Quotient Quiz', and links to UN anti-corruption portals and publications. A Joint Statement from UNDP and UNODC for the International Anti-Corruption day was also posted on the campaign page.

The highlight of the campaign was the 'My ACT Story' contest, where viewers were invited to share their success stories of ACTing against corruption. The contest received 25 entries and the winner was decided by viewers' votes. The winner was declared on 2nd January 2012 and the winning story was by Anuradha Bele from Nagpur, who got 20 votes for her story. An IT professional who is now studying to become a veterinarian, Anu shares, "I am very excited about winning this contest and I will be very happy if my experience gives hope to other ordinary citizens like me. In 2010, I had gone to the municipality to get my birth certificate. I submitted all the documents and and the clerk there told me to come and collect it in 2-3 days. When I went back, he said that these things take time and also that many feel that a higher fees would make things move faster. I understood that he wanted a bribe, but I feigned ignorance. When I went back the next day, he said that he still did not have it ready and that there was no telling how long these things take and how much work he had. After continuing this for over 10 days, I went to the Information Officer and asked for the Right to Information (RTI) form to file a query under the RTI Act, asking for reasons for the delay. I knew about the RTI Act from my sister. What happened was a quick turnaround... I got a response as well as the birth certificate the next day." Anuradha's prize was a gift voucher from the online shopping portal

In addition to the online campaign, UNODC in association with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) India, organised a panel discussion in New Delhi on 9th December 2011, with support from the Hindustan Steelworks Construction Limited (HSCL), a public sector company and UNDP India. The discussion brought together representatives from the Central Vigilance Commission, Corporate Sector, Civil Society, UN and the Media to discuss each stakeholder's role in addressing corruption, particularly in the light of India's ratification of the UNCAC. Held at the UN Conference Hall, the panel discussion was preceded by a street play on anti-corruption performed by the Asmita Theatre Group, a renowned street theatre group in Delhi.

A rich discussion among seven panelists threw up a number of solutions to address corruption, the use of e-initiatives being a significant one along with the need for improved governance and legislative systems. The video of the discussion can be viewed here.

For the event, UNODC produced special 'ACT' Campaign T-shirts, with support from Unistyle Image, as a corporate  social responsibility initiative. UNODC also produced 'ACT 2012' desk calendars with an anti-corruption theme using the ACT posters as images. The T-shirts and calendars were distributed among campaign partners and the general public, both during and after the event.

Click here to view photo gallery of the event.