In my latest livemint column, I look a little closely at what Manmohan Singh said at a CBI-organised conference:
Singh was not speaking at an academic conference where he may have had the opportunity to reflect on the correlation between corruption and economic growth and by extension, policies designed to promote growth. He was addressing an audience filled with investigating officers at a conference organised by the CBI itself. And he seemed to be saying that investigators need to slow down so that nation-building and economic growth can continue apace. It is surprising that the Prime Minister thought it fit to deliver this message at all and particularly to this audience. Or, it may not be so surprising, depending on how you view the United Progressive Alliance government’s top leadership’s complicity in the myriad on-going corruption cases.
Our Prime Minister went on, without acknowledging that…
corruption of the kinds that have been uncovered in India – particularly related to the allocation of state resources – have primarily exposed the deep rot of crony capitalism in the country. By no stretch of logic can a government claim that this is a positive force for our long-term economic growth, if it erodes a sense of rule of law, which builds public confidence and invites private investment. In rich countries, this may pass off as lobbying and there may be a case to consider whether lobbying should be made legal in India – but this was hardly the point that the Prime Minister seemed to be making. Instead, Singh referred to the policy paralysis prevalent in the country and insinuated that reckless investigative agencies are responsible, in part, for this phenomenon