Corruption in India will never be stamped out unless both giver and the taker are equally exposed to public scrutiny and the rule of law, leading NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul has said.
"I have seen how corruption in certain countries has destroyed the fabric of society for ordinary people and lowered the prestige of those countries internationally. In India I have been actively fighting corruption since 1982," Lord Paul said at the Indian Institute of Directors Global Conference at the Tower Hotel here yesterday.
"As we have all read, India's recent rapid economic development has been plagued by increasing corruption in both the private and the public sector and between the two.
"Perhaps what gets less comment is that all parties to an act of corruption are responsible. In a society where corruption is endemic and you want to get something done then it is all too tempting to offer a bribe.
"But corruption will never be stamped out unless it is acknowledged that the giver is as much to blame as the taker. Both must be equally exposed to public scrutiny and the rule of law," Paul said.
Lord Paul, Chancellor of two British Universities – Wolverhampton and Westminster – however, is optimistic that the recent passage in the Lok Sabha of the Companies Bill 2012, the biggest change to Indian company law since the 1950s, "are expected to improve transparency and attract international investment to India".
While applauding the intent of the new legislation, he said "these legislative changes will only work if leaders of business embrace not only the letter of the law but also its spirit."
In his outspoken speech, Lord Paul, Chairman of the Caparo Group of industries, said "unfortunately, it has become so fashionable to talk about corporate governance, whether in the financial press or the Chairman's statement, and to write new rules and regulations, that we have almost forgotten about implementing it."
He noted "the list of corporate scandals at Board level over the last few years has been disappointingly long: Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom in the US; BAE in the UK, Parmalat in Italy, VW in Germany. Closer to home for some of us would include Satyam, and the Indian telecoms sector and 2G licences."
"Even here in Britain, we have had our difficulties," Paul said and referred to the recent Leveson inquiry into relationships between the media, politicians and the law enforcement agencies which brought fresh