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Entrenched Corruption

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Young highly educated Indians who are leading the fight to take the Indian economy to the next level are mostly in sync with the ‘larger objectives’ of the government, but are deeply concerned by the continuance of systemic corruption in the bureaucracy at all levels. They feel that, while the encouragement being provided to start-ups is laudable, the environment in which these have to find their way remains deeply discouraging. Owing to this, there is a tendency to avoid activities that would require engagement with government agencies, as it needs sucking-up skills that lie beyond even those who have attended the most superior management courses in the country or abroad. The best talent prefers to stay out of the states that have the worst record in this regard – mostly those in the north. This is a kind of brain drain that adversely impacts the economic prospects of these states.

UP, in particular, has a bad reputation in this regard, which also has its impact on Uttarakhand. Corruption having reached its peak when Akhilesh Yadav was Chief Minister, it has not been sufficiently overcome even in the times of Yogi Aditanath. In fact, owing to the obsession with other elements of law and order, the necessary revamp in the system does not seem to have been considered. All the talk of major industries shifting base to UP has not seen any substantial result on the ground for this reason. The danger is that any return to the past dispensation would lead to unmanageable setbacks.

Young managers report that although corruption is a universal phenomenon, government officials in other countries – even in early stage development Africa – at least deliver after taking bribes. Even that is not a certainty in India. In fact, bribes in the first stage are for ensuring out of the way harassment does not take place. Even where an occasional senior official is motivated enough to do the right thing, the efforts are thwarted by the deeply entrenched lot. Matters are made worse by the fact that action taken against the wrong-doers sinks deep into the swamp of the judicial system.

These concerns of the new lot of entrepreneurs must be taken up on an urgent basis otherwise it will be an opportunity lost, slowing down economic growth and discouraging the spirit of enterprise in yet another generation.