Feb 16, 2014

Real cost of corruption - One aspect.

There are several news articles speaking of road accidents in India. It is indeed a big problem. The latest report that Indian cars failed crash tests is making news. May be Indian government will mandate these tests as well. Wonderful so far.

There is also an extended discussion on stricter enforcement of laws, clampdown on drunk driving and so on. All this is good. But have we thought of the genesys of rash driving? I am sure majority of these same drunk, careless, arrogant, out-of-control drivers have a valid driving licence. Where does that licence come from? How is it given? Here is a quick process summary of obtaining a driving licence.

Option 1)
A. Go to local RTO office.
B. Appear and pass the learner's licence test where your knowledge of rules are tested.
C. Learn the vehicle and appear for driving test.
D. Get a licence.


Option 2)
Till some years ago, go to one of the many thousands of driving school with your address and identity proof.
(Even today, after the computerised learner's licence test, do the above.)

Naturally, majority people take option 2. It is convenient. The test is a breeze. A few feet ahead, a few feet in reverse, voila you have a licence. You feel happy! Happiness is good for health...but perhaps not in this case.


How would you like to learn that the doctor treating someone near to you was a quack and responsible for deteriorating health of the patient? Is this not similar albeit in a different context?

Read this article from The New York Times on the FDA worry on Indian Pharma. The article says India exports about 40 percent of over-the-counter & generic medicines in the US. And what does India do about ensuring that the quality served to this largest consumer base is good and as per, if not better than, the standards? Make no mistake, we are not a banana republic. We have drug regulatory body called CDSCO, but as an industry have Indian Pharma companies tried to enforce those regulations in spirit? Or are we the happy driver with the freshly issued driving license? We will drive until we run over someone by the pavement?

And our regulatory body will continue to look away as long as the authorities that be keep saying this is the industry that brings in USD 15 Billion (INR 90000 Crores) a year. This looking away implies economic profit to those benefiting from it and penalizing companies that are voluntarily ensuring compliance to the FDA standards.

But the heavy cost that India pays as the damage to its image is something that cannot be measured easily - the factors to be measured are the penalties, lossof market share, loss of licenses. These are to the corporation, also to be added are the costs of additional scrutiny, loss of jobs, increase in social issues in those areas due to these issues, decrease in confidence on Indian industry as a whole. That is the real cost of corruption.

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