India – Corruption
Corruption is in the air, on airways, press, digital and social media allover India, unabated. New scandals are being uncovered and their media reporting spread like wildfires. They are equal opportunity phenomena, not restricted to a particular political party or cultural group. Many respected, concerned, knowledgeable thought leaders in the country express opinions on the causes of this malaise and policy prescriptions, mostly rooted in emotional kneejerk reaction and anecdotal evidence. We need to know a great deal more about precise causes and consequences of corruption before effectively designing policy prescriptions.
Fortunately, the academic community is quite busy with research work in this field, but the causes and consequences of corruption are still not fully understood. Corruption is supposed to adversely impact flow of FDI, but China is the most favorite destination of FDI. Democracies should have negative effects on corruption, but India supplies contrary evidence. Higher level of civil service workforce salaries should ameliorate ill effects of corruption, but research does not conclusively support it, and contrary to anecdotal evidence that prior colonization of a country is responsible for elevated level of corruption, research does not fully support it.
For a more comprehensive survey of literature on the causes and consequences of corruption, we can gain useful insights from the excellent work (see link below) of Professor Johann Graf Lambsdorff of University of Passau in Germany. Allow me here to digress for a moment to note that I will endeavor to ensure that my all comments in these blogs will be based on responsible and respectable research rather then emotional, kneejerk reaction – a lesson I have taken to heart from Professor Lind at Duke University.
Back to the interesting issue at hand, country and organizational cultures do play a key role on the level of corruption, but cultures are very difficult to transform; their effects and residues persist over thousands of years. While setting a national agenda to eradicate corruption at all levels of Indian society is an egalitarian, worthy, noble pursuit, it may take decades, if not centuries, to get there. So in the meantime, it makes sense to focus more on economic and human capital development. Concerned citizens should earnestly exert pressure on India’s elite (politicians, civil servants, business leaders) to complement its indigenous talent pool with external, globally respected, objective thought leaders such as Clay Christensen (innovation and constructive destruction), Michael Porter (strategy), John Kotter (change management) all of Harvard, and Blair Sheppard (former dean of Duke University’s business school, now at PWC, with deep insights into global cultures and global leadership issues) to advise on strategies and policies to accelerate balanced and inclusive growth. Without carefully designed and executed economic growth policies, India’s dream of capturing the share of global economy at an ambitious level envisioned by the framers of BRIC with remain an academic exercise and a folly.