We know how the wheel goes around in India. A bribe speeds up a process manifold and helps you find the shortest route to your destination. Bureaucracy is etched onto the minds of people in India and even kids are aware of the ways to get work done. IPaidABribe is an ingenious initiative which pulls out the rug from all the corruption. People from different cities can upload their “bribe-experiences” and the site cumulatively lists down the bribes doled out in the different cities. Jubin Mehta from YourStory.in caught up with Raghunandan, the programme co-ordinator of IPaidABribe to know more. Below are the edited excerpts:This is an amazing initiative. How far do you think you'd be able to progress on this initiative?
Thank you for the appreciation. We believe that what we are doing is not done elsewhere and so, it would be very difficult to predict how far we will be able to progress except to say that we have a long way to go. Corruption has always existed in our system and is not a malaise, it can be eradicated. It is only from the last year that citizens, civil society and NGOs have begun fighting it out in the open. But this is only a start. This menace has penetrated deep into our system and it will take all round and persistent efforts on behalf of citizens as well as the government for it to be wiped out completely. Ipaidabribe.com believes in systemic reforms and not in targeting individuals. If the system is transparent and fool-proof, it will be difficult for corrupt officials to get away with their crimes. We have recently started engaging with the Transport Department, Karnataka and will be providing our services in revamping their website to make it more user-friendly and informative as well as re-designing their citizen charters. This is just the beginning. As our database of bribe report grows, we would like to present our findings and recommendations to various other government departments across cities all over India.
Where are you based?
Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy which runs ipaidabribe.com is based out of Bangalore. Hence, the visibility of ipaidabribe.com is more in Bangalore. Even in terms of advocacy, ipaidabribe.com has begun engaging with government departments in Bangalore to render their services corruption-free. However, we have reports from more than 450 cities in India, on the website. With greater outreach, we will get more stories from other cities too and a clearer and more balanced picture will emerge out of this.
What is the outreach model for IPaidAbribe?
When we launched in August 2010, the publicity was mainly through word of mouth. However, the press got wind of our initiative and we received plenty of attention in the national and international print and TV media. Due to the unique nature of the programme, we were picked up by various media, national as well as international, and till date have been featured in about 140 publications. Ipaidabribe.com is now considered a serious and balanced thought leader in the area of anti-corruption and our opinions have been sought on National TV talk shows and programmes such as ‘We the People’ and ‘Humlog’ on NDTV 24/7 and ‘Face the Nation’ on CNN IBN.
Having said that, we are concentrating on using the social media to spread our message. We believe that as the reach of the internet is galloping, it will play a vital role in Janaagraha’s approach towards achieving its larger goal of improving the urban quality of life. We therefore strongly believe in the power of social marketing and media. With 10,200 ‘likes’ on Facebook and 1385 followers on Twitter, ipaidabribe.com not only uses social media platforms to popularize its beliefs and spread the work it does, but also to engage in debates and conversations with the users on the issue of corruption in the country, thereby sensitizing net users to the issue.
Janaagraha has been around for 10 years now, tell us about its impact so far.
Janaagraha has 11 different programmes running under its umbrella, all of which contribute to Janaagraha’s larger goal of improving the urban quality of life and infrastructure using the active participation of citizen’s and government. Some of those that are citizen facing, are as follows:
Bala Janaagraha: This programme empowers children to develop a deep sense of ownership and responsibility towards society. Bala Janaagraha’s curriculum – the “Me and My City” module – is civics in practice. Through interactive classroom sessions and project work, the programme helps schoolchildren discover the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a democracy.
Jaagte Raho: It inspires values of active citizenship in urban India by bringing out the citizens to vote in local, state and urban elections. Its roots can be found in the Jaago Re! One Billion Votes Campaign in partnership with Tata Tea, launched in September 2008. Targeting the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections, it was launched in 37 cities across India as the country’s largest voter registration drive. It succeeded in enabling more than 6 lakh youth across India to fill their voter registration forms online. Through this, Janaagraha got the unique opportunity to experience the functioning of electoral setups in varied geographies(37 cities and 17 states) across India. A major concern that emerged from this campaign is the multitude of errors in our electoral rolls. Jaagte Raho! launched the Bangalore Electoral System Transformation(B.E.S.T) project in order to clean up the electoral rolls in Bangalore City. It was commissioned under the supervision of the Chief Election Commissioner. Through our citizen volunteers, our Area Voter Mitras, the BEST project has been launched as a pilot in the Shantinagar constituency of Bangalore.
Area Suraksha Mitra: This civil defence initiative that gives every citizen an opportunity to create a safe and secure neighbourhood.
On the advocacy front with the government, the most significant success for Janaagraha has been the inclusion of many suggestions that it championed, in the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission(JNNURM). JNNURM is the largest urban initiative in India’s history with 25bl programme for 65 cities. Janaagraha lobbied for and played a key role in the design of the mission at the national level. Two of the reform conditionalities under the JNNURM, namely, the Citizen Participation Law and Public Disclosure Law have been crafted by Janaagraha.
How many reports have been made on IPaidABribe so far?
Ipaidabribe.com does not require any registration from users to post about their bribe experiences. As of today, we have 11187 reports in the ‘paid a bribe’ section, 1308 in the ‘I didn’t pay a bribe’ section and 441 in the ‘I didn’t have to pay a bribe’ section. We have a facility for readers to register to receive updates from the site, and we have around 3000 registrations so far.
We at YourStory.in wish IPaidABribe and Janaagraha team all the very best with their excellent initiative, do check out their website to know more about them www.ipaidabribe.com