India Can Use Technology To Fight Against Corruption

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Owning as well as running businesses in India is a tough ask. India is placed at 130 out of 190 countries with respect to the ease-of-doing business environment, according to the World Bank Report 2017. New Zealand and Singapore top the list. In fact, India’s close neighbors, such as China, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, fare better on the list, with them being placed at 78, 107, and 110 positions, respectively. India’s position is worrisome. The country desperately needs to bring foreign and institutional investors. It needs investments for primary sectors such as industry, infrastructure, agriculture, etc. For all of this to happen, a favorable business climate has to be created and is the first step towards economic growth.

SMBs continue to face niggling issues

Businesses of all sizes, particularly the small and medium ones, continue to face problems. All this is despite the brouhaha and the hype created over how the business situation has markedly improved in India. The claims of a pro-business environment ring hollow; however, as they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Demonstrable substantiation is missing from the arguments, despite a plethora of policy decisions being announced in that direction.

Little has changed on the ground; the reality is that small and medium enterprises confront red tape, corruption, and nepotism, day in and day out. At times, they are even subjected to the muscle power of thugs. It’s high time, therefore, that dispassionate ways and means are devised to test the effectiveness of measures in an objective manner. It is imperative to assess whether policy measures have percolated to the ground level. Surely, something needs to be done on an urgent basis to ensure policies don’t remain lip service but bring relief for businesses.

Why World Bank’s ease-of-doing-business rankings? 

The report takes several factors into account like official procedures, cost and minimum capital needed to start a business, time required for construction permits as well as electricity connection, registration of property, getting credit, etc. The list also factors in other aspects such as protection of investors, amount and number of taxes, trading across borders, among other things. Enforceability of contracts as well as the resolution of insolvency issues are also aspects which the report looks at.

“The time taken to get an electricity connection for a newly opened warehouse is very long. Also, the number of documents, cost and time necessary for export and import is complex and difficult to get. We also don’t have a clear picture about the time, cost and recovery rate under bankruptcy proceedings,” says Pradeep Jain, an entrepreneur.

Technology vs. red tape, nepotism, and corruption

Red tape, nepotism, and corruption continue to be major impediments to India’s progress. According to experts, red tape and graft are rampant in the country. Digitization is a corrective step towards ensuring transparency and accountability in the institutional system. Introducing automation and making transactions online can remove such hurdles to a large extent. Processes will get transparent and efficient and eventually result in the restoration of people’s faith in the system.

Cutting-edge technology like Blockchains can be a major factor in curbing graft. The inherently decentralized nature and inbuilt resistance to tampering make blockchains perfect for recording as well as retrieving financial data and becoming the single source of truth for an organization. Blockchains can obviate need for multiple centralized databases and ensure real-time, sequential flow of information across an organization. The transparency provided by this technology can prevent officials from abusing power. Manipulation becomes impossible as every ledger becomes accessible to public, police, journalists, and the common man. Blockchains can lead to an open and global database.

What does freedom mean for a business today?

“Freedom for me is access to possibilities. We have seen independence of ideas and evolution of thoughts among the youth of the nation. Let us paint the entire world with the color of Indian entrepreneurship by making India a land of possibilities and opportunities,” says Shashank Dixit, CEO, Deskera.

 

India is already witnessing a boom in entrepreneurial activity, which has picked up over the past few years. But, for sustained economic growth, it needs to be complemented with favorable business conditions. Moreover, there is a lot of room for improvement in the regulatory environment of the country and that transparency must be ensured in business regulations. Let’s pledge for a corruption-free business environment this Independence Day.