The issue of bribery (in India) feels like an easy crime to point out, of course acting on it to resolve this issue is a difficult task. Pointing out the crime might be a big step in solving the problem. I am starting to believe that answer to the question on how to tackle bribery might get a huge helping hand with the use of technology and the Internet.
• Collecting data: Collecting data about incidents of bribery (claims) is very important. ipaidabribe.com is a good example in this direction. I believe that a mobile application would be a better tool for reporting bribery. One might be more likely to report a demand for bribe as soon as it occurs. Even a phone call to report a bribe ( 1-800-BRIBE-LINE) might be a good tool for addressing this issue. Bottom line is I would be more likely to report an incident as soon as it occurs.
• Can this data be used by the vigilance agencies to catch the offenders? How can one sell this idea to vigilance agencies? Probably only one way to know: try it out.
• Creating “cloud of shame”: People who demand bribes are usually chronic offenders. A govt. official who demands bribes is (mostly) stationed at a particular location of an office. Sot it should be easy to point out the sectors and more importantly the offices in each area. Based on the reports if one can effectively broadcast this information throughout the society (associating a number with a crime is always effective), then can one create a “cloud of shame” around offices where the number of incidents are high. Will this create pressure on the officials to be non-chronic about their habit?
May be the answer to effectively broadcasting the information might not be traditional mediums like print and media advertisements. Although these have probably been around and are still useful, can we come up with innovative ideas on tackling this issue which could be more fun? Can one create a game? A quiz or perhaps an incentive based social media application like ‘check-in to most corrupt offices in the city and win an ice-cream’ or report or ‘help transcribing audio call incidents and win citizen hero badges’ to show off on your Facebook wall. These ideas have to address couple of issues apart from bringing awareness, they should make sure it is not a passing fad. Or may be it is okay even if it is a passing fad, a multi-way guerrilla attack might be the way to tackle the issue.
Can local groups of citizens represent or create awareness? This sounds like an obvious one but might be the most difficult to implement, can social networking address this by making the interactions faster, can this bring awareness?
Approaches to portray bribery effectively: We all know bribery is happening everywhere and every second but putting a number or a value to it is always effective. Even if one could put a value to, it how could this be effectively broadcast throughout society? One opinion would be that an effective representation of the bribery in terms of a physical quantity/location which people can actually visualize would be better than a statistical estimate.
Update: Looks like http://www.ipaidabribe.com/ is doing a great job in collecting the data.