Corruption Perception Index 2021 – UPSC Notes

Transparency International releases the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) annually, which is the most widely-used global corruption ranking in the world. The index measures how corrupt each country’s public sector is perceived to be, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys. The CPI defines corruption as the misuse of entrusted power for private benefit.

Transparency International is an international non-governmental organisation founded in 1993, having its headquarters in Berlin, Germany. Its non-profit purpose is to take action against global corruption and prevent criminal activities arising from corruption.

The most notable publications of Transparency International include the Corruption Perception Index and the Global Corruption Barometer. Transparency International released the first Corruption Perception Index in 1995.

Overview of the Corruption Perception Index 2021

Published by:Transparency International
Total countries ranked in CPI 2021180 countries
Top performers in CPI 2021Denmark.
New Zealand.
Bottom performers in CPI 2021South Sudan.
India ranks85th position

About the Corruption Perception Index 2022

  • The CPI 2021 ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption.
  • CPI ranks the countries on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). In other words, a country’s score is the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0-100, where 0 means highly corrupt, and 100 means very clean.
  • CPI 2021 reveals that corruption levels are at a worldwide standstill.
  • The CPI score of each country is a combination of at least 3 data sources drawn from 13 different corruption surveys and assessments. Several reputable institutions, including the World Economic Forum and World Bank, collect these data sources.

Key Highlights of the Corruption Perception Index 2021

  • The average global score remains static at 43 out of a possible 100 points in CPI 2021, which stays unchanged for the tenth year in a row.
  • As per the CPI 2021, 131 countries have made no significant progress against corruption in the last decade.
  • More than two-thirds of countries (68%) score below 50 in the CPI 2021, while 27 countries are at their lowest score ever, indicating that these countries have serious corruption problems.
  • Since 2012, 25 countries significantly improved their score, but in the same period, 23 countries significantly declined.

Top performers in the CPI 2021

The top performer countries in the CPI 2021 perceived as being the least corrupt nations in the world are Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand, all of which have scores of 88. Along with these, the top ten include Singapore (85), Sweden (85), Norway (85), Switzerland (84), Netherlands (82), Luxembourg (81), and Germany (80).

Bottom performers in the CPI 2021

The bottom performer countries being the most perceived corrupt countries in the world are South Sudan (11), Syria (13), Somalia (13), Venezuela (14), and Yemen (16). Countries experiencing armed conflicts of authoritarianism receives the lowest scores, including Yemen, North Korea, Afghanistan, and Libya.

Performance of India in the CPI 2021

India ranked at 85th position among 180 countries with a score of 40 in CPI 2021 (improved by one place from 86th position in CPI 2020).

Except for Bhutan and China, all of India’s neighbours ranked lower than it. Bhutan (68) ranked at 25th position, China (45) at 66th position, whereas Pakistan (28) at 140th position and Bangladesh (26) at 147th position.

Regional Specific Performance in the CPI 2021

RegionAverage regional scoreTop Performer in the regionBottom Performer in the region
Asia Pacific45New Zealand (with a score of 88)North Korea (16), Afghanistan (16)
Eastern Europe and Central Asia36Georgia (55)Turkmenistan (19)
Western Europe & the EU66Denmark (88), Finland (88)Bulgaria (42)
Americas43Canada (74)Venezuela (14)
Sub-Saharan Africa33Seychelles (70)South Sudan (11)
The Middle East and North Africa39United Arab Emirates (69)Syria (13)

Human rights and Democracy

  • Along with the stagnation of anti-corruption efforts worldwide, Human rights and democracy are also under threat.
  • As per the latest report, protecting human rights is crucial in the fight against corruption: countries with well-protected civil liberties generally score higher on the CPI, whereas countries that violate civil liberties score lower.
  • The Global COVID-19 pandemic has also been exploited as an excuse in many countries to shrink Basic freedom and sidestep Important checks and balances.
  • Corruption undermines the government’s ability to guarantee human rights to its citizens, which affects the delivery of public services, the dispensation of justice and the provision of safety for all.
  • The current trend of authoritarianism is being driven not only by violence and coup but rather by gradual measures to undermine democracy. It usually starts with attacks on civil and political rights and attempts to undermine the autonomy of oversight and election bodies and media control. Such attacks allow corrupt regimes to evade accountability and criticism, allowing corruption to thrive.


  • To end the vicious cycle of corruption, the people should demand that their governments:
    • Uphold the rights needed to hold power to account.
    • Uphold the right to information in government spending
    • Restore and strengthen institutional checks on power
    • Combat Transnational corruption.

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