Friday, December 21, 2012

LOBBYING IS CORRUPTION FOR BHARAT, FOR INDIA NOT


LOBBYING IS CORRUPTION FOR BHARAT, FOR INDIA NOT
A very fine, thin, and negligibly indistinguishable line not visible to the naked eye divides corruption and lobbying. It is like gambling which is considered as a crime, punishable when played in private or public places and an elite glamourous pastime, not punishable and in a way out of the purview of our criminal law when enjoyed in elite clubs.
The distinction between corruption and lobbying is as subtle and simple as between India and Bharat. It is a matter of how you try to look at it. The difference between the two pervades as much as it exists between the minuscule minority of those who feel proud to be Indians with a permissive, chalta hai, liberal and 'secular' attitude and those orthodox simpleton natives of Bharat for whom crime and corruption are nothing else but crime and corruption in whatever manifestation. For the former the splurge of gifts, their size and cost depending upon the clout one has in political and administrative circles, is a civilized way of rejuvenating lasting relationship with friends in need. For the latter, it is rank corruption. For the first the act of adultery is a consensual sex between two consenting adults and for the second it is a crime.
Lobbying, practiced with immunity in western democracies like USA and UK is known as "the practice of individuals and organisations trying to influence the opinions of MPs and Lords. Methods of lobbying vary and can range from sending letters, making presentations, providing briefing material to Members and organised rallies." (http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/have-your-say/lobbying/)
That money is used in this practice (or crime) of lobbying is proved by the admission of the Global retail giant Wal-Mart — waiting for years to open its supermarkets in India.
According to lobbying disclosure reports filed by Wal-Mart with the 
US Senate, the company has spent close to $25 million (about Rs 125 crore) since 2008 on its various lobbying activities, including on the issues related to "enhanced market access for investment in India". (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Wal-Mart-admits-spending-Rs-125-crore-on-lobbying-to-enter-India/articleshow/17549995.cms).

Under the Prevention of Corruption Act in India corruption means: "Taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act" or "Taking gratification in order to influence public servant, by corrupt or illegal means…..Taking gratification, for exercise of personal influence with public servant".
The colossal amount of Rs. 125 crores was spent by Wal-Mart for "various lobbying activities, including on the issue related to 'enhanced market access for investment in India" does fall, if not in full, in part, in the category of taking "gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act, and "taking gratification in order to influence public servant, by corrupt or illegal means" as per the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act in India.
Since huge money is involved, it clearly follows that it was used as a "gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act, and "taking gratification in order to influence public servant, by corrupt or illegal means". And it must be kept in mind that ministers in government have been declared as "public servants" by the Supreme Court of India. It is not equally unreasonable to infer that a part of this money was used to "influence" some political parties.
But Information Broadcasting Minister Mr. Manish Tiwari says: "How can you be certain that lobbying automatically translates into illegal gratification? There is nothing to suggest either in jurisprudence or otherwise that the term lobbying is synonymous with illegal gratification.
We can evade the real issue by taking a purely legalistic view that Indian law recognizes it as a crime or no crime. But what matter is the general perception of the people on an issue or act and not what our law may or may not provide.
It is just like trying to play down the act of adultery as consensual sex between two consenting adults, an act which for all intents and purposes is a sin in the eyes of the aam aadmi.

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