Posted: October 2nd, 2011 | Author: nramakrishnan | Filed under: technical | Tags: data-viz, india | 1 Comment »
I love data visualization. I am inspired by the fact that India has a wealth of data that can lead to wonderful visualizations that can help Government officials, politicians, journalists, social workers do their daily jobs better. Even the average citizen should be able to see the visualization and understand what’s going on and maybe get inspired to be a more responsible citizen.
I am on the constant lookout for Government data that is openly accessible and see if I can do something interesting with it. That led me to build this visual guide of elected representatives of India and this blog entry comparing corruption at the higher levels and by average citizens
There are a lot of websites (usually run by NGOs) that have data about Indian politicians and their details (education, criminal records, attendance in the parliament, participation in the parliament etc). This website has data on criminal records that made me interested. I emailed them asking (hoping) if they have any APIs that can be used to access the data, but I guess that is not high on their priority list. However, what they had was data arranged in HTML tables and lots of pages numbered serially. So I got into screen scraping mode and scraped out information of around 7800 candidates who stood in the elections in the Indian General Elections in 2009. Now, I have their educational qualifications, criminal records, total assets and liabilities (some have really obscene numbers) in my database.
The goal is now 2 fold.
- Create a simple visualization on the map of India to show educational qualifications, assets information and criminal cases of these candidates. Give the ability to filter by party, state. So viewers can see which areas had more educated candidates, which had more criminal candidates and where did the richest candidates come from.
While creating the above goal, ensure that the API to access data is well written so that it can be exposed to other developers interested in building more cool visualizations.
This should be fun.
Posted: September 5th, 2011 | Author: naduism | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: corruption, data-viz, india | 6 Comments »
This is an effort to compare and contrast the amount of money lost by the Government in various scams to that of the money exchanged when the country’s citizens take the shortcut or the easier path to get things done quickly, or in some cases where they are forced to pay bribes to Government officials.
Bribes exchanged in the Passport process
In Passport issuing process, there are couple of police verifications that are done. Basically, a policeman would come to your residential address and ensure that you are physically present there at the given address. Of course, that’s not always possible because say you are studying in a college in Chennai and your Passport has been applied at the Passport Office in Mumbai (because your parents stay there). So, the policeman might be happy to take a bribe to help you out in this situation. This might be the same with the “CBI verification process”. In other cases, sometimes citizens are required to pay extra “chaai-paani” so that the file is passed from the Police officer’s desk to the next Officer in the Passport Issual process.
As per this article, Pune issued 1.29lakh passports in 2010. Lets take an estimated figure of 15 lakh Indian passports total being issued in 2010. Assuming 75% of the people pay Rs. 100 each bribe for the police verification and the CBI verification. So the amount =
15 Lakhs * 0.75 * 200 = 2250 Lakhs = 22.5 Crores of money in bribes for issuing a passport. This amount is about 1/8th of the amount of money lost by the Exchequer in the Taj Corridor scam.
Driving offenses and bribes
Now lets take the case of driving offenses in India. According to this article, a total of 2,41,392 challans were issued in Haryana during 2010 while Rs 6,36,10,640 was recovered as fines. Now, assuming that 70% of the time challans were issued and the rest of the time, people got away paying a bribe. The loss to the Government ~= 2.725 crores in Haryana, extrapolate it to 10 major states of India, we will reach a ballpark figure of 30 crores – which is around 1/3 of the amount of money that the Exchequer lost because of the bungling of contract terms for setting up the Timing, Scoring and Results System during the Commonwealth Games 2010. (Source)
Bribes exchanged in the Registration process (land registration, birth & death certificates etc)
On the site ipaidabribe.com, under the registration category, the amount of bribe reported to have been paid is around 809 Lakhs of rupees. We can take say, 75% of that figure as the bribe paid per year (as it is spread around 1.5 years) and then extrapolate the amount of bribe paid in the entire country for registration. So 75% of 809 Lakhs and then say around 10 times for the entire country. Why 10 times? ipaidabribe.com is accessible to only to educated people with an internet connection to submit their grievances. So, 10 is a good (conservative) estimate for the entire country.
So, the ballpark amount paid in registration bribe per year is ~= 60.67 Crore rupees. That is around 70% of what was the loss to the Exchequer in the Kargil Casket Scam (around 85 crores).
As per this article in the Financial Express, the Indian Railways loses around 1000 crore rupees in ticketless travel in a year. 1000 Crore is a huge number. To put it into perspective, it’s about twice as big as the Telgi Stamp paper scam.
It’s interesting to observe that the amount of money that is exchanged/lost in the bribing process or say taking short cuts to get our work done quickly, can at times compare to some of the pretty big scams in our country. Sidin Vadukut phrased it pretty well – “Anti Corruption begins at home”