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BW Businessworld

A Call Against Corruption

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The proposed corporate social responsibility (CSR) clauses and disclosure norms meant for greater transparency and accountability in the new Companies Bill may be a matter of debate for the Indian corporate, but over 200 companies registered in the country have pledged solidarity with a global initiative meant to bring about sustainable and responsible business practices among companies and governments.

The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to such practices, in a meeting convened in New Delhi on April 9, have asked its members to collaborate with the governments to curb corruption and establish good governance practices.  The grouping has more than 7,000 corporate signatories, including 299 Indian entities, as its members.

The “global call to action” launched by UNGC seeks mobilisation of the private sector against corruption. “In order for global development efforts to benefit the poor as well as empower ethical players, business leaders are asked to urge governments to promote anti-corruption measures and to establish systems of good governance worldwide”, UNGC stated.

“As the Millennium Development Goals 2015 deadline approaches, the United Nations is working to develop a new global development framework, and business has a central role to play. Corruption presents the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development around the world, by placing considerable and costly impacts on the private sector. To prevent future development priorities from being undermined by corruption, it is critical to integrate good governance and anti-corruption into the Post-2015 Development Agenda”, it said.

The call to action to governments from the private sector on anti-corruption and the Post-2015 development agenda targets Global Compact business participants to join forces with governments and to encourage them to create enabling environments for more robust disclosure, transparency and enforcement mechanisms that contribute to sustainable development – particularly in the area of public procurement. As part of a year-long global campaign, the Call to Action seeks to showcase the private sector’s commitment to transparency and anti-corruption as new global development priorities are established.

Global Compact Local Networks in India, Nigeria, Egypt, and Germany – many of which are already engaged in anti-corruption collective action projects – expressed support for the Call to Action and are helping to galvanise business leaders in favour of ethical corporate practices.

“Corruption distorts markets, undermines development and makes business unsustainable. It is time for businesses to showcase their commitment to bring this critical global challenge into the centre of global development debates.”

UNGC seeks to align business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With more than 7,000 corporate signatories in over 140 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative.

Of the 299 Indian signatories, close to 50 have not updated their latest activities towards this larger goal and hence is in the “non communicative” list of the agency.

Indian corporates that are active include companies like Infosys, Indian Oil Corporation, several Tata Group entities and Sterlite Industries, academic institutions such as Birla Institute of Management and Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode and trade bodies lilke CII and Ficci.