Should giving a bribe be made legal? A radical idea against corruption

Posted: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 | Posted by Debajyoti Datta | Labels:

I came across this radical idea propounded by Dr. Kaushik Basu, the Chief Economic adviser to the Ministry of Finance. The idea is to make bribing legal for giving a certain kind of bribe, which Dr. Basu calls “Harassment bribes”. The suggestion is that this will reduce the incidence of harassment bribes. How? The logic is as follows – a person is forced to pay a harassment bribe but he is unwilling to do so. According the prevailing law both the bribe giver and the bribe taker are equally wrong and liable to punished. Hence after giving the bribe, there is no incentive for the bribe giver to come forward. Instead, he is just as likely as the bribe payer to be punished if he comes forward. Under the new proposal, the bribe payer wouldn’t be punished only the bribe taker will. Hence the bribe payer can come forward against the bribe taker. How will he prove that bribe taker took the money? He will take a secret photograph or write down the numbers of notes paid etc.

Do we need this? Well, we can take photos of the bribe taker soliciting for bribes; we don’t have to actually pay them. That being said, this is an interesting idea. As the new law, if introduced, will be disproportionately against bribe takers, if properly implemented this has the potential to stop harassment bribes which in my opinion is the most pressing problem facing us. I, at least for one support this idea.

One problem though, how do we define harassment bribes? Ideas such as these, which are being lost in the din of anti corruption clamour need more wider promotion. I urge everyone to have a look at Dr. Basu's original article.

Further reading:


  1. Yash said...
  2. There are a lot of discrepancies in Dr. Basu's theory. Thanks for clearing my doubts on this.
    Please read my latest blog post, too...mine's a tech blog. Please promote it on Indivine, if you like it:

  3. Debajyoti Datta said...
  4. Hi Yash,
    Would please elaborate where there are discrepancies in Dr. Basu's proposal?

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