Ethics in Business and Governance… in words of a Bureaucrat

Mithileshwar Thakur_IRS ME_indianbureaucracy_Data Security
Mithileshwar Thakur_IRS ME_indianbureaucracy_Data Security

The importance of ethics in every sphere of life can hardly be over-emphasized. The lack of ethics ,particularly in business and governance, has not only prevented the creation of a conducive ecosystem for businesses to grow and flourish but has also vitiated the entire process of public policy making .

In the recent past there has been a great deal of debate on the lack of ease in doing business in India . Complex web of rules and regulations , requirement of plethora of permissions and clearances , duplication of documentation have historically been the norm , notwithstanding the sincere efforts by every successive governments to make the life easier for entrepreneurs and businesses . Reforms and changes have however been anything but big-bang or revolutionary.

 At the root of these cautious small steps and even half- hearted reform essentially lies plethora of  unpleasant experiences encountered by the govt . A little freedom or liberty and all rules,norms , ethical standards and cautions are thrown to the winds by the unscrupulous elements in the business.  Cases of money laundering, round –tripping, mis-representation and mis-declaration, fly-by-night operations suddenly witness a rapid increase . Thankfully, these elements constitute a microscopic minority.  So are the rogue elements in the govt who purposely put spanners in the reform process to retain control & discretion and perpetuate the irregularities and improprieties. These small numbers though are enough to dent and damage the system and project the country in a poor light . In nutshell, the irresponsible behaviour of the industry and the vested interests of the rogue elements don’t allow the “ Trust-based-model ” to develop , which is so very critical for a self-regulated , auto-pilot mode policy regime to replace the existing policy framework .  This continues to be one of the major hurdles in initiating and implementing completely liberal and reform-driven policy , not only in India but in all third world countries .

 A self-regulated trust based policy regime with due risk-assessment based check and balances can facilitate deployment of the large talent pool of the government in productive areas requiring innovation and value-add , away from the routine and repetitive work . But , this requires a great deal of confidence building and mutual trust among the stakeholders responsible for fair and transparent governance .

The answer thus lies in sensitizing stakeholders ( both from the government and the industry ) about the criticality of ethical values and norms and its overriding importance in the nation-building  by  inculcating these values through constant mentoring, monitoring and training .

About the Author: Shri Mithileshwar Thakur is presently posted as ADG – Ministry of Commerce and Industry , Govt of India  and the views expressed are his own. Shri Thakur is a Gold Medallist in B. Tech (Mechanical Engineering) and recipient of merit scholarship and topper of university /board at all levels.

Prior to joining Indian Civil Service, he has worked as member of IRS in Indian Railways and as Engineer in well reputed companies like NTPC, Tata Motors and Tata Steel. He has served as visiting faculty to many reputed institutions like IIT, Kharagpur; National Academy of Customs, Excise and Narcotics; Indian Institute of Foreign Trade; RBI officers ‘Training Institute ; Narsee Monjee Institute of Management to name a few. . His areas of interest also include Intellectual Property Right issues, Cyber laws , regularly contributes to the reputed magazines and newspapers.  He has presided over many functions and seminars organised by reputed Chambers of Commerce & Industry like FICCI, CII, FIEO, Indian Chamber of Commerce etc. He had been Government nominated member of the working group set up by the Govt for Local Currency Trade. He has also been a Key Speaker and panellist in many important forums and has also represented the Government outside India on important platforms.

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