Though Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik figures among clean politicians across the country, Odisha in 2017 sadly failed to elicit a similar tag as evident in two survey reports on corruption and transparency.

The reports show that while a whopping 77 per cent of households in the State perceive prevalence of widespread corruption in public services, around 41 per cent of investors feel corruption as a severe-to-moderate problem in Odisha.

Such appalling home truths have come to fore in the recently-released report by the National Council on Applied Economic Research (NCAER) on Governance and an earlier report by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) India Corruption Report (ICR)-2017.

The NCAER’s 2017report observed that with over 17 per cent investors identifying corruption as a severe impediment in investments, Odsiha was slotted at 14th among 21 sampled States.  Moreover, 24 per cent more investors see corruption a moderate impediment in the State. However, overall, only about 41 per cent investors view corruption a problem against around 58 per cent who don’t view so. Significantly, the 41-per cent figure is not a minnow to be overlooked.

More skeletons the NCAER report has listed out. Based on the Association of Democratic Reforms’ (ADR) 2017 data, the NCAER has assigned a score of 59 and slotted Odisha 12th  among 21 States with respect to number of legislators with serious criminal charges in Assembly/Parliament from the State. The alarming fact is Odisha fared worse than UP, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. However, the NCAER report puts Bihar at top and UP at 6th slot having least legislators charged with serious criminal offences. Interestingly, in Odisha, the ruling BJD dominates in both State Assembly and Lok Sabha with 117 MLAs and 20 MPs.  “The significance here is with such liability, Odisha cannot emerge as a State with credible law and order or transparency,” the report observed.

In this context, the findings of the earlier report titled ‘India Corruption Report (ICR)– 2017’ don’t hold many surprises when they pointed out that a whopping 68 per cent household feel a rise in corruption in public services in 2016-17 in Odisha and another 9 per cent pointed out the level of corruption remaining the same over the previous years. The ICR-2017 puts Odisha at number one in the index of rise in corruption in public services vis-a-vis the previous years and was followed by Karnataka.

But a consolation fact for the State Government is that in 2005, the proportion was 71 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively. And as only 19 per cent households in 2016-17 experienced corruption in availing public services in State vis-a-vis of 77 per cent in Karnataka, therefore, ICR-2017 labelled Karnataka the most corrupt and placed Odisha at 12th corrupt among 20 States.

Another big shocker for the Odisha Government is that as per ICR- 2017, when 36 per cent households in the State think of the Modi Government taking effective steps to curb corruption; around 29 per cent could think so of the BJD Government.

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