Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Corruption: Causes, Consequences and Cures

The current campaign against corruption provides a golden opportunity to Dr Manmohan Singh to lead from the front. There is an urgent need for speeding up the process of economic, administrative and judicial reforms, not only to push the economy to a higher growth path, but also to help reduce the scope for corruption. Being the Prime Minister of India, he must spell out the options before the country. Then it would be for the people to decide in a democracy.
Typically, corruption, or rent seeking, is a consequence of the gulf that exists between supply and demand for any goods or services due to regulatory interventions. Despite, two decades of economic reforms, the regulatory and policy environment in many areas of the economy continue to be quite restrictive, and discretionary powers prevail. It is particularly in those areas where corruption continues to prevail.
The current focus on corruption should help us investigate these details and come up with systemic reforms. Any anti-corruption agency has to be a part of this overall architecture, rather than being yet another body to monitor, investigate and prosecute those involved in corrupt practices. Otherwise, the Lok Pal, or any such agency, will inevitably become a Joke Pal, it wouldn’t matter which version of the bill gets passed in Passed in Parliament.
 The complete analysis is available here, "Cleaning up Corruption: An agenda for India"

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gandhians today, and Gandhi yesterday

Many of today’s anti-corruption protestors believe that they are participating in the second freedom struggle from misrule. Ambedkar had warned against extra-constitutional means of protests. But today, in the name of Gandhi, many believe that constitutional processes are expendable. Actually, It is good that Gandhi is back in the public memory. If this provides an opportunity to try and understand him, it will be even better. While the tumultuous protests we are witnessing today seem to cluster under the umbrella of Gandhism, how Gandhian is the Anna Hazare led movement?
In this article "Gandhism redux? Wanna be Gandhis and the original Gandhi", I attempt to understand Gandhi and his relevance today.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Corruption: How not to fight it

In the past few months, the debate over black money and corruption has been raging across the country. Some social activists and the government have been at loggerheads over the scope and structure of a new anti-corruption authority being proposed. There have been claims ranging from tens of billions of dollars to over a trillion dollar, money that may have been illegally acquired or wealth that evaded taxation. But the issue of corruption is not just about policing, but should be about about policies that help generate black money in the first place. The current focus on the Lok Pal, as a super cop, is only diverting attention from the real roots of corruption. I have co-authored this article with my friend Mohit Satyanand. One version of this article is posted in the Liberty Institute website, "Chasing Black Money: In search of red herrings".