Government is corrupt, what about corporates?

T.N. Ninan, editorial director of Business Standard, in his weekly ruminations, against the backdrop of the IPL and Ranbaxy scandals:

“Pillorying the government of the day for pervasive corruption is the easy thing to do, whereas it might just be an escapist option. It helps those of us who are neither in politics nor in the government to pretend that we are not tainted, and therefore have the right to point fingers at politicians, who we assume are not. The truth, as recent events have brought home forcefully, is that corruption has permeated fields that have nothing to do with politics and government….

“If the canker is widespread, there have to be systemic solutions. An obvious step is to come down hard on anyone who is caught, as a lesson to everyone else. System legitimacy suffers only when businessmen find ways of avoiding being brought to justice. But perhaps the worst outcome would be to treat this as just one more kind of reality TV, for nightly entertainment. All troubling questions can be evaded if we just watch Arnab Goswami shout at, hector and pillory his “guests” for an hour every night, for thereby we’ve earned our absolution!”

The cricketer turned commentator Geoffrey Boycott suggests that it might have to do with our genes:

“We don’t seem to get it in other countries. It seems to be around in Asia. And that’s not me being against Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis. You know me, I love that part of the world. They are very kind and good to me, particularly the Indian and Pakistani people, where I’ve been a lot.

“But I’m telling you the truth, it seems to surface in Asia. And once you’ve got all this money floating around in a huge game with millions and millions involved, you’re going to get problems. It’s going to resurface again.”

The Hindu‘s sports editor Nirmal Shekar laughs at our hypocrisy:

“This is who we are, as Indians. While we need not be ashamed about it, let us not pretend that our own brand of neo-liberalism, which has produced a socio-cultural climate that makes it possible for the aspiring Indian middle classes — I use the plural advisedly — to unabashedly revel in the celebrity cesspool and pretend that we are squeaky clean is, at best, hypocritical, at worst, suicidal.

“For, cricket does not exist in a vacuum; it is not a cosy world safely tucked away from the dark, dirty, often cruel, and real, world in which we live, as Indians.

“A lot of us wishfully think that this might turn out to be India’s century or, in the least, an India-China century. But if you chose to do away with those rose-tinted glasses — a gift from opportunistic politicians and an acquiescent media — and mentally prepared yourself to stare truth in its face, then you will get an idea about where we really are.”

Also read: Question: which is India’s most secular religion?

India’s most secular religion has to be corruption

Corruption, religion, spirituality and the Dalai Lama

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20 Responses to “Government is corrupt, what about corporates?”

  1. harihara Says:

    We do not still realize that corruption is our congenital mental disease, the one and only quality which we have really preserved from tradition. if we are frank and humble enough to accept that position , then we will reflect that whether is corporate , or government, or municipality or anything the people who man the positions are all oour brothers and sisters that is “of the same sleazy fact we must remember Jesus who pointed out that everyone is as much of asinneras other and so has no authority to ride over the other. He took the sins of all onto himself and for future they instituted a confession system So society realized to sin is very human and later on it may become a right This congenital disease is being now being grown by the market culture where every human activity, relation is becoming a matter of business with investment, loans, buying and selling and no ethics at all or even ethics will become a commodity with aprice and profit attached.. So this folly having lost its absurdity due to repititoion o is to be accepted as part of our way of life . Moralizing is hypocracy in this context. Moderation may be possible

  2. dr ramesh Says:

    When a politician gets involved in a scandal, within minutes of it getting aired in the media, he is abused, entire political class is condemned, and eventually he is made to resign.
    but what is so special About BCCI ? Why there is silence from chest thumping politicians who occupy positions in BCCI.
    Even judiciary is silent on BCCI corruption, when judiciary could take pro active role in cracking 2G scam, coal scam, Commonwealth scam, why cannot it order a SIT probe under its supervision to cleanse betting Mafia from BCCI. National security is at stake.
    Biggest take away IPL SCAM—–indian middle class is slowly realizing that cricketers are no icons, they are more vulnerable for temptations, they would do anything for enjoying good things in life.
    Indian cricket is highly hyped, bad quality product.
    For once,
    I totally enjoyingthe IPL SCAM coverage by arnab and team, it is thrilling, exciting, breaaking news every minute, honey traps, treason, adultery, sub plots, arrests, —— I have never enjoyed cricket more than this.

  3. Kumar R C Says:

    It is hand in glove – Corrupt politics-Captions of Business houses,
    who is more stronger in this corrupt India ie. Bharath
    Bharath Rathnas.

    If there were to be a Noble or Noble equivalent Prize in this World
    Monopoly – Indians would.

  4. Melanie Says:

    A great piece by T.N. Ninan who has indeed hit the nail on the head. The corporates are no less guilty, as they can be as unscrupulous and unethical as politicians in India. Our cricketers and their IPL bosses have proved to be no less. Like Ninan suggests, the punishments for corruption and scams have to be seriously imposed so that they can act as deterrents.

  5. Manivannan Says:

    Agree. Corruption pervades our life in India. Is that because of denial of equality among mankind in the Indian society, which makes everybody to climb the ladder by hook or by crook? In most parts of the developed world, there is dignity of labor and respect to individuals, on a comparative scale; while our differences do not allow us to treat equal persons equally. So, there is thirst for moving up, somehow, anyhow, leaving principles & values behind.

  6. Anonymous Guy Says:

    What is called corruption in English, is a way of life in India. I trust my family person first, caste person after that, religion next, then language speaker next, and then the others. I distrust people in the reverse order.

    Due to our karma, we have to live in one country with people of a thousand different castes and languages, all with the unrestricted freedom of movement.

    If this situation existed in any other country it would lead to corruption.

    Why is Sri Lanka less corrupt? Why is China less corrupt? Why are Japan and South Korea even less corrupt? What do they have we dont? It would be difficult to pin it down just to genes. They have a more uniform society, with lesser languages and groups. BTW, we could replace the word corrupt above by low quality, poor, disease ridden, non-hygienic.

    It is a cultural problem, brought about by our fate. There may be a chance it has some roots in genes, that is something for scientists and sociologists to show. I doubt it.

    The more one thinks of the issue, the less one sees any ‘solution’ to what is called corruption. It manifests itself everywhere, all around us. It is better to our leaders gradually tailor our systems and institutions to accept that this is the way we do business. Following Western models which grew organically from their cultures wont work. Let us embrace ‘corruption’ and move on.

  7. Gaby Says:

    AG, I wonder if you have regular pints with Simple, The Dentist , Asha etc. all of you share a propensity for rigid thinking- albeit on different subjects.
    Where is your evidence for holding up diversity as such a big influence on levels of corruption. I am asking since you hold up largely homogenous societies like China, Japan and South Korea (with neighbouring Sri Lanka dragged in for what reason- I know not) as less corrupt than a diverse India.

  8. Faldo Says:

    I strongly believe that there is a strong connection between the HDI of a nation and the corruption index. As countries become more developed, corruption is not as all-pervasive or has better checks and balances that can act as a strong counter. With a lot of people in India just focused on bread and butter issues, corruption in many fields is ignored by most people or not considered to be a major evil.
    Often the media and the common people hold politicians and public figures to different ethical standards but forget that they too are part of the same society. One cannot always hope for first world morals with third world conditions.
    While wrongdoing in IPL, ought to be condemned it says something about our sense of priorities when we see more pressing crimes receiving hardly any attention. There are reports of the Delhi or Mumbai police crisscrossing various states in the country to make arrests. One wishes they could show some of that energy in making their own cities safer.

  9. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Gaby, I dont have evidence, just personal anecdotes. I have lived in India and a couple of the countries mentioned, and had to do day to day business and fend off for myself. In the foreign countries I did not even have any social or family network in the foreign places. The difference between India and these countries is stark. It hits you in your face as soon as you step out of Bangalore airport.

    As to diversity and corruption, search the net for any impartial study comparing country various indicators. compare where India is, and where the more homogeneous countries are. See the improvement over the years and how leaders of the countries have been able to guide progress in these countries. I am no social scientist, if you are interested you should study some published papers.

    I wrote based on what I observe, and obviously that is just a microcosmic picture from my point of view. I have a good social standing and family network in India, and have a great life when I am here (which is mostly temporarily now a days). But it is not difficult for me to keep aside my personal life and make observations which stare me in the face. I get to observe life better when I am in my native place, which is a village. Here I see diversity and corruption in all its glory; simple, distilled and intertwined with each other every passing day and every hour. I can write in more detail if you are interested :)

    My experiences in the other countries I mentioned in limited from an outsider’s point of view, but enough for me to compare and draw conclusions of my own.

    What do you think about a thousand castes, languages and religions and their relation to corruption? Anything based on personal experiences or observations?

  10. Vinay Says:


    These are all POA theories – “pulled out of ass” theories. “Diversity is a reason for corruption” – whatever do our sensibilities have to tolerate next on churumuri. :( If you ask him why China, despite being an extremely homogenous society is much more corrupt that more diverse societies in the West, he will not answer you, but will come up with the same POA theory a few weeks later in another post here.

  11. Anonymous Guy Says:

    BTW, the Ranbaxy scandal is astonishing to the Western press in terms of the depth of corruption, the lack of any morals and plain criminal activity carried out in the name of corporate activity. Rajat Gupta, Raj Rajrathnam etc. is nothing compared to this.
    Even if it were China, chances are Malvinder Singh and others would be punished or executed for bringing their country’s name to disrepute. What will happen in India (even if Ranbaxy is now Japanese owned), nothing much really.

    But this is business as usual for us. Nothing unusual here. The problem is only when our companies and institutions get caught on the boundary of international laws and entities which are serious about living by laws and enforcing them when things get out of hand. e.g. Satyam, Ranbaxy etc.

    As long as the ‘corruption’ is contained within India, it is business as usual. All of us have had to deal with government and public sector institutions in our everyday lives, where nothing will change since it is manned by us and answerable to nobody outside.

    Livemint has an interesting article:
    Ranbaxy holds up an ugly mirror to corporate India

    “As Indian firms seek to do business abroad, their culture of deceit will come back to bite them.
    History is littered with examples of companies whose dubious ethical standards eventually led to their demise. The graves of Qwest, Tyco, Enron, WorldCom and Arthur Andersen are the stepping stones of the US’s own exacting standards of corporate behaviour.”

  12. Rastrakoota Says:

    The comments by most are really very interesting. Faldo’s is just one up I guess. Sums it all so very well:-)

  13. Yella Ok Says:

    Government is corrupt. And there is corruption in corporate world too. So? Does the fact that there is corruption in corporate world make the corruption in government and by politicians more acceptable. Unfortunately, this is not what most “experts” seem to suggest.

    That is not the problem. If there is corruption in the corporate world, you have an outsider (government and its agencies) who can bring them to book. The fact that government/agencies may not bring them to book is another facet of government corruption.

    If there is corruption in the government and by politicians, who will bring them to book? This is the problem.

    Look at the alacrity with which Kapil Sibal is saying “we will introduce and pass an anti-match fixing law in the next session”. Half or quarter of that alacrity would would have made Lokpal a reality many years ago, would have made CBI a truly autonomous body many years ago and would have made us see many politicians, ministers, CMs, PMs, their secys, their son-in-laws, kith and kin behind bars. That has not happened.

    If the government is corrupt and not punishable/punished, blame to government and politicians. If the corporate is corrupt and not punished, blame again to government and politicians.

    AG, etc are taking the conversation away with some needless theories. We are fortunately/unfortunately a land of thousand castes and languages – cannot be wished away. What is needed is the right law, system, will, courage and mindset to minimize the incidence of corruption – that is what is lacking.

  14. Gaby Says:

    Exacting standards of Corporate USA. That is a sad joke AG. but then your evidence style is anecdotal and mostly limited to your own experience!

  15. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Dear Churumurians,

    I am somewhat aghast that none of you even thought of mentioning legalized betting as the way forward here! There are enough rules already in place and none can be enforced and that is the ugly reality! Using more Khadi condoms will not curb population growth, right?

    Why are we such a nation of blinkered, sanctimonious, hypocritical and hysterical idiots?!!! can’t we just legalize betting in sports and let this money become ‘white’ so that the government at least knows where the money comes and goes? Instead I have been hearing and reading idiots say that legalizing betting leads to social problems! Really idiots without this we are having a good time is it?

    Data falsifying is not the only prerogative of Indians! Western companies have been doing this without getting caught in Ranbaxy fashion! Take a look at this: No less than GlaxoSmithKline and others have been doing it. ‘X’ Guy as a foremost ‘white man’ among us, you may even be shocked at this as well. I hope you will recover fast from this blow. Ninan is quite lame for making this exclusive charge and he is not doing his homework properly! Ranbaxy have been doing ugly things but they are hardly the leaders in this field. Just their naivete is revealing that’s all.

    In the coming days I will not be surprised to see some of our cricketing icons being revealed as bookies favorites in delivering results:)

  16. Objectivist Mantra Says:

    Once again we are having a wrong definition of corruption. I think by now we should get over this “Soviet Union” type of definition of corruption.

    Corruption is a concept that applies ONLY TO THE GOVERNMENT. If a private person, business house or corporation steals money, it is called theft. Theft can be investigated through a simple police officer.

    Corruption happens only when there is misuse of government laws, regulatory powers, etc., for the purpose of making monetary gain.

    So lets stop accusing private companies of corruption. The private companies might be a gang of thieves and dacoits, but they cannot be corrupt.

    Only government departments, officials, elected representatives and others with regulatory powers have the prerogative to be corrupt.

  17. chidu22 Says:

    Objectivist Mantra, well said, clear distinction was required. This blows away the title of the post. Also will put an end to this ” dog chasing it’s own tail” situation.

  18. Vinay Says:

    Objectivist Mantra, well said. I wanted to say the same thing – thanks for explaining it well.

    Doddi Buddi:

    True, all the bullshit that our netas and babus spew against legalization of betting is just massive hypocrisy. I know a guy who invested a lot of money in IPL betting around 3 years back and lost almost all of it. This fellow had borrowed money from his girlfriend – to the tune of lakhs. He just blew it all up.

    My point is, idiots will always exist. It is better to have things legal and white rather than underground. Not having betting legal did not prevent this guy’s idiocy, and neither will it do so going forward.

  19. Vinay Says:

    The foremost white guy among us has a theory that “nothing will change since it is manned by us and answerable to nobody outside”. Yet, this POA (pulled out of ass) theory of his falls flat when you ask the simple question: how have things improved so much in so many departments?

    I applied for a change of address and an additional passport booklet since my old booklet was full. The way everything was conducted – like clockwork, with giant LCD screens and number system, perfectly synchronized process. It was so different when I applied for a passport the first time, years back.

    When you ask the foremost white man among us how so many government departments and completely desi industries/institutions have changed so much and become so much better over the years, no answer will be forthcoming.

  20. Gaby Says:

    Fred the Shredder, Haliburton, Union Carbide, Olympus etc must be very grateful to the sophistry of guys like Objectivist Mantra.

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