Spanning the globe: conflicts of interest in India

There are many ways to look at the world of conflicts of interest – by profession/industry, types of cognizable interests, types of conflicts, and methods of mitigation (e.g., disclosure, compliance programs).  In addition to these approaches, the COI Blog has  – through guest posts by Simon Webley, Lori Tansey Martens   and Judith Irwin  – occasionally taken a geographic/cultural view, but generally in a broad way, rather than by country.

Being from the ethical “glass house” that is New Jersey, it would be awkward for me to approach COIs in this latter manner, and I have rarely seen others do it — but am happy when they do.  The most recent instance is in an article  – perhaps inspired by a high-profile scandal currently raging in the world of Indian cricket –  published in today’s Economic Times by Samanwaya Rautray and Urmi Goswami, who report that conflicts of interest in India’s political, business and financial sectors are rampant.

The article is quite detailed and thoughtful, and would be difficult to summarize in the limited space offered by this blog.  But I encourage COI aficionados – as well as C&E officers whose companies operate in India – to read it.

I also note that while some of the comments quoted in the piece suggest that there is a cultural root to the problem,  roots of this sort can , in my view, be found in a great many societies.  Moreover, the article also chronicles many efforts in India –e.g., a registry for politicians to identify their pecuniary interests  – to address conflicts in government and business. It also makes the point that the key for dealing with COIs in public companies is for capital markets to pay closer attention to good governance, to which I would add that this challenge exists throughout the world.

Finally, the very fact that COIs are being examined broadly in this article is itself a positive development, since attitudes toward conflicts in one major sector of a society – government, business and even cricket – surely contribute to how COIs are viewed generally.

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