August 2, 2015

Dear Colleagues

Here is another set of for your perusal:

  1. One of the most common forms of corruption is ‘quid-pro-quo’. In bureaucratically rigid governments, it is not uncommon to ask for favours of those who occupy decision-making positions in public authorities. Because the ‘normal’ course of action doesn’t yield desired outcome, favours are sought for ‘out-of-turn’ benefits. Once such favours have been granted, the ‘quid-pro-quo’ begins to operate. Those who granted favours in the past now want to ‘encash’ them by getting favours in return. This vicious circle is the bane of converting public benefits into private gains. ‘Lalitgate’ in India is a classic case of this dynamic.
  2. The UK government has recently promulgated some new regulations on fund-raising by domestic charities. It appears that there have been some recent cases where fund-raising volunteers have put such pressure on certain givers (especially the elderly) that it has caused them serious stress and illness. Global standards for fund-raising  in the name of ‘noble’ causes do not exist in a universally enforceable manner. Jehadi groups collect donations ‘at will’ on the streets of many cities around the world. Can something be done?
  3. “When the rich get richer, the benefits do not trickle down”. This grand discovery comes from a recent study by expert economists at International Monetary Fund (IMF). This study further suggests that taxing the rich and increasing the income of the poor is critical for both reducing economic inequality and increasing economic growth. Many practitioners on the ground and local researchers in many countries have been saying the above for the past three decades; during that period, IMF was recommending policies with quite the opposite purpose and results. Has Greece caused the ‘discovery’?
  4. It is estimated that the size of capital flight in 2012 was nearly 900bn$. Half of this came from BRICS countries. The recipients typically are countries in Europe and North America, some locations more ‘friendly’ than others. The recent noise in Indian parliament to get the ‘black’ money back into the country seemed to assume as if no fresh capital flight is taking place nowadays. The forces, mechanisms and pace of globalisation have significantly shaped the manner, form and speed of capital flight to ‘unknown’ locations.
  5. The Prime Minister’s Relief Fund attracts private donations from public and companies to support families affected by disasters and conflicts. It has also been included as one of the recipients of compulsory spending under the new Companies Act for CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). However, The Fund continues to ignore any request for providing information about who receives its annual disbursements of nearly 500Cr rupees ($100m). It claims that it is a private agency, not a public authority as per the definition of The Right To Information Act. Now, corporates ask NGOs receiving their donations so many pieces of information about disbursement, results and impacts. Do they dare ask the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund same questions?

All the best
Rajesh Tandon