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Corruption drove me away from India

By George Varghese, PGP 81

I was brought up with Christian values and believed in a professional approach to solving problems. As part of my philosophy I worked as a contractor for a leprosy hospital in South India for a few years. I studied software development at IIT Kharagpur and IIM Ahmedabad and subsequently in the UK. In all these institutions I was taught scientific and professional methods of problem solving.

My first tryst with corruption

About 35 years ago I used to develop software and had built a reputation for myself in a town in South India. The director of an organisation was my friend. I approached him and offered to develop some software for the organisation for Rs.35,000.

Another contractor offered to develop the same software for Rs.150,000. The other contractor got the contract and was paid the whole amount as an advance. After getting the money the contractor just disappeared without supplying any software.

I could have done a good job for less than one fourth the amount paid to the contractor. I have no idea how and why the other contractor got the job when he had no knowledge of software development and no staff who could have done the job. I suspect it had something to do with the fact that I refused to pay any bribes or commissions.

The author as a young IIMA graduate

When profits overtake integrity

After my studies at IIMA and working in India for a few years, I did an MSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester in the UK. That opened up opportunities for me to work in different countries.

In the USA, I worked for a software company owned by a person of Indian origin. I pointed out some serious flaws in the software being developed but was ignored by the management. The focus was on delivering a working software within a given time frame. A few months after implementation, the system failed and the company that developed the software went bankrupt.

The long term success of any organisation can be ensured only if the management acts with integrity.

India’s inefficient judicial system leads to corruption
In India I had to pay bribes to get perfectly legitimate things done – such as registering a sale and purchase of land.

One reason for corruption in India is the weak and inefficient judicial system. In 2023 the total number of pending cases of all types in India rose above 50 million including over 169,000 court cases pending for more than 30 years in district and High courts. Further, 4.3 million cases, i.e more than 85% cases, are pending in district courts, according to the National Judicial Data Grid. In 2009, NDTV quoted the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, as saying, “India has the largest number of pending [court] cases in the world.”

Solutions to counter corruption

It is hard to be not corrupt when people all around us are corrupt.

Media and educational institutions could do more to create awareness about the detrimental effects of corruption and the importance of ethical conduct.

Computerisation of processes to reduce human intervention reduces opportunities for corruption. For example, the online train booking system in India helps to reduce opportunities for corruption in issuing tickets. The system also improves efficiency and maximises utilisation of available seats.

The right of the public to obtain information from government agencies is another step in the right direction.

My employment with IBM in New Zealand.

After my experience with corruption, I gave up being a self employed contractor and joined IBM as a SAP consultant in New Zealand. The professionalism in IBM was a welcome change and I even made more money as an employee.

New Zealand is one of the least corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International and that makes life much easier. I must hasten to add that there is corruption everywhere. It is just the extent which is different.

Having lived in six countries and travelled to 47 countries I can confidently say that the best countries to live in have the least levels of corruption.

The author is a retired software engineer living in New Zealand.

AUTHOR: admin
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