Centre for Internet & Society

After reporting a bribe on IPaidABribe.com, one Bangalore student has had the satisfaction of seeing action taken against a corrupt public official.

This article by Jessica McKenzie was published in TechPresident on September 23, 2013. Sunil Abraham is quoted.

The student, Shubham Kahndelwal, was asked to give a bribe before getting a receipt for registering for an identity card called the AADHAAR card. He at first refused, but then gave in. In response, the official gave him a receipt for his father's registration (which he had submitted along with his own) but not his. He told I Paid A Bribe that he “never knew a simple complaint could make such a difference.”

Kahndelwal elaborated:

I was in Chennai when the incident happened and after that I was furious and was searching all over to look for a complaint mechanism, when I stumbled upon IPaidaBribe.com. It is a great day and event for me and for me to share with my friends.

IPaidABribe.com was launched in August 2010 by the Bangalore-based nonprofit Janaagraha, which focuses on civic engagement and improving governance.

When first launched, there were concerns over privacy issues and protecting the users who submit complaints. On the other hand, in an interview this May with techPresident's David Eaves, Sunil Abraham, the founder of the Center for Internet & Society, pointed out that in order to make a difference, I Paid A Bribe would somehow have to close the loop.

Abraham went on:

some of the things that go on with anonymous reporting cannot happen, and to close the loop it almost needs to become a paralegal infrastructure. It has to talk to law enforcement and people have to be arrested, prosecuted and put away.

That is apparently what happened in this case. The official in question has been blacklisted and had disciplinary action taken against him.

To put the success in perspective, however, the bribe requested was Rs 2000 (US$31.95) and the bribe ultimately given was only Rs 350 (US$5.59).

Abraham also pointed out to Eaves that the real problem in India is “high ticket bribes...at the top of the pyramid.”

So while complaints from people like Kahndelwal are what keep the feeds at IPaidABribe.com constantly refreshing, they're mere drops in the bucket when compared to the millions of dollars moving in scandals like the 2G spectrum scam.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.