India's lessons in transparency

Summary:Over the last few months, the Indian media has had a spate of controversies and scams to report on, starting from the Indian Premier League (IPL), to the Commonwealth Games, the Adarsh Society scams and the scandal around allocation of 2G licenses in 2008.Perhaps I'm stating the obvious--corruption thrives on opaqueness.

Over the last few months, the Indian media has had a spate of controversies and scams to report on, starting from the Indian Premier League (IPL), to the Commonwealth Games, the Adarsh Society scams and the scandal around allocation of 2G licenses in 2008.

Perhaps I'm stating the obvious--corruption thrives on opaqueness. Lack of transparency has given rise to a breed of politicians, bureaucrats, industrialists, businessmen, traders, PR persons and even journalists who think they can get away with anything.

Corruption is rampant in nearly all spheres of life. Earlier this year, the Press Council of India brought out a report on the spread of paid news in the media. It brought to fore several shocking facts. For instance, some newspapers offered "rate cards" for slanted political coverage in last year's elections.

In a large democracy like India, where resources are scarce, the judicial system is tardy and everything tends to get debated endlessly, corruption is bound to exist. What's of concern is its growth and magnitude. Corruption is probably growing at a faster pace than the country's economic growth rate.

Interestingly, it's technology that has helped reveal the irregularities--from the Tehelka tapes to the Nira Radia tapes--and it's technology that has provided evidence of such scams.

Technology can be applied in almost all areas to bring about more transparency. Around May-June this year, India held auctions of 3G and BWA spectrum. The entire e-auction mechanism was rather transparent and resulted in the government raking in a whopping US$23.3 billion (INR 1,060 billion).

The Indian government has acknowledged this result and now plans to replicate the e-auction mechanism in other sectors, too, such as allotment of highway projects, FM licenses, etc. Being an IT superpower, India needs to take the lead in bringing transparency at all levels of governance.

India has much to gain from transparency as its growth rate will gather momentum, projects will get completed at lower costs and on time, and efficiencies will come about everywhere.

It's Indian IT that must take the lead in bringing about transparency. After all, if our IT companies can go overseas and set up systems that improve their governance processes, surely they can do the same in India. For, like charity, even clarity must begin at home.

Topics: Enterprise 2.0, Hardware, India, Mobility, Social Enterprise, Tech Industry

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