Essay On Corruption In India 2013

Elections in India: Transparency, Accountability, and Corruption

May 14, 2014

This post was written by Ravi Duggal, Program Officer at the International Budget Partnership.

Elections are underway in the world’s largest democracy. With over 800 million voters spanning 543 political constituencies, voting will last until mid-May. And transparency and accountability are shaping up to be key issues for voters.

Turbulence in the last few years

The last two years have seen major upheaval in Indian politics and the general mood is against the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) – a centre-left coalition led by the Congress party. Many believe the UPA has underperformed. Economic growth has slowed from around 9 percent just a few years ago, to less than 5 percent last year; and flagship development programs have seen a downslide in performance due to underfunding and mismanagement.

Concerns over corruption have sparked widespread discontent. Civil society organizations (CSOs) led a countrywide anticorruption campaign that saw many people take to the streets to demand stronger laws and greater oversight. In 2013, this campaign coalesced into a new political party, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP or Common Peoples Party). Running on a platform of direct democracy, citizen’s participation, and accountability, the AAP successfully competed in state elections in Delhi.

Polls, however, point to a victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). There is a wave of support for its controversial leader Narendra Modi. But polling may underestimate a silent coalition of groups that feel threatened by Modi’s strong Hindu-nationalist leanings.

Transparency and citizen engagement in action

With the growing attention to open and accountable governance, and discontent over business-as-usual, what might these elections mean for efforts to increase transparency and participation around government budgeting? Thanks to new technology and increased transparency, citizens, CSOs, and the media are engaging in the election in ways not seen before in India. A wealth of information is available on prospective candidates, everything from their legislative performance to details of their personal finances. CSOs, such as PRS Legislature and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), have analyzed and publicized such publically available information, and the media has picked up on it and run stories on the more high-profile candidates.

The Election Commission (EC) also has been swamped with complaints over code of conduct violations by political campaigners. High-profile examples include Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar’s urging supporters to vote twice, and top leader in the BJP Amit Shah’s hate speech against Muslims.

Although elections are but one aspect of governance, and we should be cautious about overreaching, these appear to be promising signs of the willingness of both the government to make information publicly available and other stakeholders to use this information to engage more fully.

But all bark and no bite?

Unfortunately, the EC’s response to violations has so far been disappointingly lenient. Sharad Pawar, for example, was able to pass off his calls for people to vote twice as a joke and simply apologized when questioned by the EC; Amit Shah was banned from campaigning, but only in Uttar Pradesh. One might have expected — or hoped — that such exceptional violations would have resulted in cancelation of candidature.

So we are observing that while transparency, access to information, and citizen engagement is strong, appropriate actions have not been taken. And hence accountability fails.  This risks creating a sense of futility and frustration among citizens who may get disenchanted with the process.

What we can expect

There remains a great deal of political fluidity, and we won’t know the final outcome until results are announced on 16 May. But there are three possible scenarios, each with different implications for budget advocacy campaigners:

  • The UPA coalition returns to power: Business as usual. Guarded liberalization paired with stronger investments in social sectors. Budget advocacy would be focused on pushing for substantial increases in social sector spending to improve service delivery.
  • A BJP victory: A major shift in economic and fiscal policies. We would likely see markets take centre stage, more rapid liberalization, corporations being taxed less, and reduced social spending. This will threaten many flagship development programs, which may continue but with a greater emphasis on public-private partnerships. Here budget advocates may want to shift their focus to protecting what is there and preventing the privatization of public services.
  • A new coalition emerges: If a third front manages to form a government (most likely with support of the Congress party), socialist policies will be back on the agenda. Flagship development programs would be secure and probably get a further boost.

Whoever comes to power will face an electorate hungry for better governance and accountability — including accountability for how public funds are managed to meet the people’s needs and priorities. People want corruption eliminated and public services improved. Greater access to information is changing how citizens interact with government, and CSOs have shown themselves to be a political force in their own right.

Unless the new government can deliver, they may yet face people taking to the streets with their demands.

Establishing a new business venture in a country having as diverse and complicated system like India is not an easy process. Most of the people who want to establish new business have to go through many obstacles placed by the system which should be largely single window and simple.

Being one of the fastest growing economies of the world India has become one of the most favourite choices for foreign investors. But there are still many formidable challenges out there for foreign investors eyeing up to do business in the country.

The complicated rules of the government and the prevalent red tapism in the system also play a big role in creating hurdles for the establishment of new business in the country. The way files move at a slower pace in government offices also make the establishment of a new business difficult.

Essay topics for MBA: System needs to be more transparent

Most of the times lack of transparency in the finance regulating system of the country, makes establishing a new business a troublesome process. There is always a need for greater disclosure of information on part of the regulatory authorities like Trade and Tax controlling departments. For successes of business and markets there is a dire need for openness and transparency of the regulating systems so that the business can run smoothly without facing any hurdle. Most of the times, the lack of transparency results into lack in acquiring enough resources to establish a successful and thriving business. The lack of transparency on part of the governing bodies creates an environment of uncertainty due to which the companies often shy away from doing long term planning leading them to a short term focus which ultimately leaves an adverse effect on the business. The lack of transparency in the system leaves the NRIs wanting to establish their business in India confused as they are not accustomed to the high level of red tapism and hurdles faced by the businesses in India.

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Corruption: Biggest obstacle in establishing a new business in India

Transparency International in its study on index of corrupt countries in 2012 placed India at 94th rank out of 176 countries while Somalia tops the list. Corruption in all walks of life in India is making it weak and has adverse impact on its growth. As per an estimate 80% of the public servants in India are corrupt because of which the wheel of growth is being pulled down. This also adversely affects setting up of new business in the country as to set up a new business one has to go through various levels of red tapism most of the times and still there is a culture of bribes in most of the government offices.

The people have to pay bribe to get a job done in a public office.  As per an estimate more than Rs. 24,000 crores is paid in bribes. Government regulators and police share in bribe money. Various government officials, politicians in connivance with Criminals tend to create problems for anyone willing to establish a new business in the country. The connivance of politicians and criminals hampers the establishment of new business in the country.

Political and regulatory risks also pose a major challenge to the investors willing to set up their business in India. Apart from all that the foreign investors also have to face the challenge of facing rampant bureaucracy at various levels of the system. The procedure of filing various types of taxes and other fees is also very complicated which leaves many open loop holes for the officials to make money through bribes and commissions.

Conclusion:

In India there is a need to make the process of establishment of a new business more easy and business friendly so that the foreign and local investors both are not faced with the complicated system which becomes the main reason behind their disillusionment with the Indian market.

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