By: AFP. This article was originally published by The Nation newspaper.

Nepalese civil servant Gyan Mani Nepal doesn’t sing, dance or perform magic tricks – but all eyes were on the bespectacled bureaucrat on Sunday when he became the country’s first Integrity Idol.
The online contest, which eschewed the glitz of popular television talent shows, saw nearly 10,000 people cast their votes via text message and Facebook in a bid to encourage honesty in the corruption-ridden Himalayan nation. An education official in eastern Panchthar district, Nepal won praise for his efforts to increase teacher attendance and boost student pass rates from 14 percent to 60 percent during his 15 years in the job.
‘I am very happy,’ Nepal said after clinching the title, which does not come with any prizes. ‘I haven’t done anything big… I just try to provide education to children who need it.’ In a country where teachers at state schools often don’t turn up, Nepal’s initiative to share his mobile number with students and parents so they could inform him about absent tutors helped to raise attendance to 90 percent.
He beat four other finalists – a social worker, a health supervisor and two school principals – who were shortlisted after non-profit group Accountability Lab Nepal launched a nationwide campaign last April.

‘This initiative aims to reward honest individuals and inspire others to join the civil service,’ the charity’s Nepal representative Narayan Adhikari told AFP. Nepal is ranked 126th out of 175 countries in anti-graft watchdog Transparency International’s global corruption perception index.
Many citizens are forced to pay bribes for essential services, and the head of the national anti-graft watchdog is himself currently the subject of several corruption investigations.