Will legalizing 'lobbying' prevent corruption in India?
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Will legalizing 'lobbying' prevent corruption in India?

By Renjith VP, SiliconIndia   |   Tuesday, 30 November 2010, 01:40 Hrs   |    16 Comments
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Will legalizing 'lobbying' prevent corruption in India?
Bangalore: Corruption is something which every Indian is familiar with, just like his mother tongue. Now, when I say lobbying and its increasing effect on policy making in the country, surely a questioning eye brow and a sharp stare will barge in from here and there. But before we give a thought about lobbying as a practice which can check a corrupt democratic setup like ours, we should definitely understand the contours at which corruption and lobbying differs.

Though used interchangeably with corruption, it can refer to a form of advocacy with the intention of influencing decisions made by legislators and officials in the government by individuals or groups. Indeed one could argue that lobbying is just a special form of corruption focused on legislative bodies or some other rule-making agency. However, there are some important differences between lobbying and corruption. They centre on the notions that corrupt practices are illegal, that corruption activities tend to involve bribes or illegal payments and, arguably the most important difference, that corrupt practices tend to directly benefit a small number of 'users' (often one individual) while lobbying activities are carried out in order to benefit a group of users that share a specific interest.

In U.S., lobbying is a huge, established industry unlike India which lack legitimate lobbies and is ravished by corruption scandals like 2G scams. The ability of individuals, groups, and corporations to lobby the government is protected by the right to petition in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the lobbying market is worth $3.5 billion. Every year the U.S. govt. allows about 2000 lobbyists based on their expertise. Interestingly, since 1998, 43 percent of the 198 members of Congress who left government to join the private sector have registered to lobby using the 'revolving door of influence'. There are now an estimated 15,000 lobbyists who have put down their roots in Brussels, striving for their voice to be heard by the EU.

The fact that lobbying is mainly aimed at policy-making institutions rather than the bureaucracy brings up another major difference thus making lobbying an activity that makes bribing irrelevant if it succeeds in influencing policy and an activity that makes bribing easier if it succeeds in undermining law enforcement. In other words, lobbying can be a substitute for, or a complement to, corruption. The difference strikes out when American govt. appoints lobbyists for U.S. airlines who work on taxes, regulation, infrastructure and market access while a similar situation in India would have seen a civil aviation scam or an Indian airlines corruption scandal with lot of private parties (business magnets) involved and lack of policy making from lobbyists.

As global corporations woo a billion customers, there are tax breaks and contracts to be wrested from Indian officialdom. Some companies still get them by corrupt means, covering their tracks with middlemen, as some foreign managers acknowledge in private and as high-profile Indian media investigations have alleged. But many companies are turning to lobbyists who use subtler tools of influence, partly out of fear of anti-bribery laws which threatens jail time even for chief executives if they let workers pay bribes overseas.

But if thought from a contrary point, replacing one evil with another is not a perfect solution. Lobbying itself is heavily regulated as it is very easy for a lobbyist to stray into bribery, the most direct way to influence legislation, obviously, is to bribe enough law makers to ensure that the bill you support passes. It is of inconspicuous harm to both private and public sectors but yet better compared to grass root corruption. Leave apart the 2020 dream India vision, we are still among the top 70 countries corruption list and when reality calls, we have to answer - either lobbying or the resident evil - corruption. Public opinion always makes the difference.

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Reader's comments(16)
1: Lobby system is a US invention to legalize corruption. Rest of the world is probably mentally colonized when it adopts anything from the west and deems it as the best.

Just look at our youngsters [men/women] who are crazy of being fair skinned and tinted hair to look like the westerners even when it makes them look haggared and old. All this in the name of fashion that again is dictated by the west who has created a major industry for which the Asians pay billions to look ugly.
God given black hair and skin tone is best suitable for the Asian climates. Indians should remember the poetry that was written on long black hair which is described as sensueous and equated with clouds and skin color is equated with almonds.

Gursharan Singh C.M.I.I.A.
Posted by:Gursharan Singh - 02 Dec, 2010
2: I think our election commission should make a extra icon in EVM during election, so that all people can vote, if any voter didn't like any body ,he can mark on that option, and if that %age is more then , there should be another election with new candidate.Unfortunately now we don't have right to regect any body during election, so many people don't go for vote for a simple reason that they don't like any cadidate bcz all are corrrupt.
Posted by:Davinder - 01 Dec, 2010
3: I think that we should make strong law against corruption. and the person who involve in corruption , should be dismissed from politics and other govt. benefits/aids. and should send to jail.
Posted by:Davinder - 01 Dec, 2010
4: No it will not

1.Seperate access to finances ,,bring them under a panel of judges under Supreme Court ,,like an Apex court

2.Make all transactions in a single Indian based bank account

3.Audit the transactions and set up quality control
Main corruption is wrong invoice ,,substabndard materials with inflated prices like CWG 2010 ETC ,,sometimes fat defence contracts are the places where corruption happens

4.Corruption ,,all the way down at State level happens in many projects like Irrigation ,,roads ,,mining etc
Only way is to make politician make decsions and administration

The money have to be under an apex court ,,like a panel of judges under state High Court .
In this case the panel of judges will have access to independent Engineers ,,Qa people ,,Accountants who will audit and monitor the entire process for the Panel of judges .
In a way a Panel of Judges are custodians of Public Finances.

Also Muscle power ,,to harass people ,,like Police ,,IT Dept ,,cvc ,,CBI should be taken off from under the Ministers control
That is the only way to control corruption
Ministers and some Contractors are Foxy ,,Cunning Jackals ,,who will do anything for money ,,that includes doing dirty politics based on Caste factor ,,Religious factor ,,Money factors ,,Regional factors ,,Language factors ,,anything under the sun that is possible to split up a party ,,people ,,kill people to retain power and amass crores in corruption empires
They will even bribe Gods with Gold ornaments ,,the principles ,,and ways of good politics have stooped to lowest levels
Posted by:rama anne - 01 Dec, 2010
You must get into direct politics rather than posting too many comments on regular basis. When we talk about ethics, we should start from home let us focus on CBN,Ramoji,Narne,Jagan Mohan Reddy,Venkaiah Naidu and last but not the least Rayapati
Prasanthi Sabbineni Replied to: rama anne - 06 Dec, 2010
First you must stop harassing me and posting comments on a personal basis

Our attempts are to build a platform for robust system that can prevent corruption and help India develop

Posting many comments with suggestions is better ,,than someone posting comments to attack a few people by names like you are doing
May be you should first look at your attitude and we can take it from there
rama anne Replied to: Prasanthi Sabbineni - 06 Dec, 2010
It is because of people like you I do not want to get into direct politics ,,your attitude clearly shows everytime linking my comments to CBN,Ramoji,Narne,Jagan Mohan Reddy,Venkaiah Naidu and last but not the least Rayapati

As long as India has poeple like you who link everything and anything ,,Iam afraid ,,it will not develop at all

rama anne Replied to: Prasanthi Sabbineni - 06 Dec, 2010
8: Lobbying is not the problem...lack of proper laws and monitoring seems to be problem. The 2G scam, mining scam for example might not lead to anything. The telecom sector and mining sector in India is growing and were recently privatized and laws dont seem to have kept pace with it. We need active, fast paced legistlation and strict enforcement. Make a few good examples and that will deter law breakers. Put the onus of obeying laws on the public rather than putting the onus of monitoring on the govt.
Posted by:SMP - 30 Nov, 2010
9: Greed & Selfishnes will continue as is. We take pride in not obeying the laws. Legalizing bribe, leaglizing narcotics, and legalizing prostitution is not needed! Rewarding high moral behavior and virtues heavily & penalties to bad behavior without laws by the society is needed and it can not happen!
Posted by:Mike - 30 Nov, 2010
10: Please do not convert this into a US Style free for all. Already globalization has done unpardonable damage through foreign financial institutions and their toxic policies which are inimical to our interests. Lobbying is nothing but crude dalaali.
Posted by:Ramachandra - 30 Nov, 2010
11: Hit band DOP coming to mumbai at AURUS, Juhu for musical event SUNDAY SUNDOWN.
& interview
Posted by:kid a - 30 Nov, 2010
12: I do not think so ,,only strict and independent CBI ,,CVC ,,ACB under Supreme Court with all of Indias finances declared on a website and relaesed through a single Bank account
All the money that belongs to the Govt should be monitored by a panel of Judges under SUPREME COURT
Posted by:rama anne - 29 Nov, 2010
I think we must recommond you for globle thinker award 2010

You and Dr JP both are Intellectuals but sad part of you is you people were fit for nothing.
Bobba Venkat Replied to: rama anne - 06 Dec, 2010
What about you did you fit anywhere also stop harassing me on these forums I do not know you I have never seen you
Looks like you are attacking me everywhere on these sites

It is because of poeple like you Politics in India has become faction ridden ,,group based ,,always interested in pulling some one down
Put your comments and show your worth ,,why attack me
rama anne Replied to: Bobba Venkat - 06 Dec, 2010
As an individual I respect, when it comes to Loksatta party, We simply donot like. Never try to support Joker party any more. Seriously I have no intentions to attack on you.
Prasanthi Sabbineni Replied to: rama anne - 06 Dec, 2010
India is a democratic country ,,Loksatta is a political movement ,,it is not a party ,,I just recommended people to watch videos on different subjects as I feel people will get educated politically and start to think ,,If I have solicited votes from people anywhere then ,,yes it is not appropriate I guess
But if you do not like ,,you can ignore it
Prashanthi ,,some of Loksatta videos have more than 20 thousand hits so there must be some merit in them

Dr JP has addreseed Google innovators summit ,,Joint Parialment reform committe meeting where people like mr Narayana Murthy ,,etc participated

Dr JP Narayan is also India National Council whose head is Smt Sonia gandhi ,,he was asked to author national health mission for India

So In a way Dr JP is above a particular political platform
If you still do not like ,,you can ignore it
rama anne Replied to: Prasanthi Sabbineni - 06 Dec, 2010