The Government is totally committed to bringing transparency to the system since transparency is key to controlling corruption, said Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (I/C) for the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region; Minister of State for Prime Minister’s Office; Minister of State for Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, and Department of Space, Government of India. He was addressing the Summit on Integrity and Transparency in Governance organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at New Delhi on 23 January 2019. Briefing the audience about the initiatives taken by Government in this sphere, he detailed e-governance, preventing leakages in the system as well as eliminating areas of corruption as key focus constituents.
Minister Singh in his introductory remarks mentioned that the requirement of regulation arises when there is a lack in compliance in true spirit, regulating is not only the responsibility of the Government or the Regulator, but industry and all relevant stakeholders should also strive to adhere to the laws. The need for regulation is minimised when an organization self-regulates. He further emphasised that Integrity, Transparency, Governance and absence of Corruption are inter-dependent and inter-connected to each other. He said that the Government is continually poised for creating an enabling and conducive regulatory environment which shall not only enthuse the confidence of the investors – both domestic and foreign – but shall greatly help the corporate community to bring in place a system which is easy, self-regulated and transparent. Business leaders must continuously improve the way they approach and collaborate to set high standard of ethics and principled business practices. He further added that there is a need to eliminate room for corruption and allow level playing field for every individual or group. He also mentioned that amendments have been initiated in the anti-graft law for the first time which shall ensure that a bribe giver is equally culpable.
Minister further highlighted the RTI Act, Lokpal Act, Whistle Blowers Protection Act, Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public international Organisations Bill, amendments to Prevention of Corruption Act etc. as regulatory initiatives taken by the Government in recent times. Online system for monitoring of disciplinary proceedings; launch of online vigilance system of Board and below Board level executives of Central Public Sector Enterprises and launch of e-service book are some of the digital initiatives, he said. Listing the e-Governance initiatives, Dr. Singh spoke about the national e-governance plan to bring more transparency into the system.
Here Sumit Majumdar, Chairman, CII Taskforce on Integrity and Transparency & Chairman and Managing Director, TIL Limited in his opening remarks observed that regulatory principles that should guide industry in evaluating ethical practices and governance, prefaced by the theoretical and global construct underpinning such governance norms. He emphasized that industry being one of the strongest pillars of the economy needs to focus on ethical conduct away from the vested interests for the welfare of society at large, despite the tremendous pressure to excel in the ever competing business environment. He detailed the CII Advisory on Human Rights and CII Model Code of Conduct for Ethical Practices in Business Dealings suggesting general principles and recommended actions to be followed by companies for adhering to integrity and transparency in business transactions.
Addressing the Summit, Salil Singhal, Chairman, CII Agriculture Council and Chairman Emeritus, PI Industries Limited, remarked that it is increasingly important for boards to constantly assert ethical conduct, keep abreast with the changing environment; recognise that skill requirements of a board are constantly changing and focus on risk management. While these are not dependent on additional regulation, there is need a stronger commitment to voluntarily improving the effectiveness of the board. He further added that governance is a state of mind and not merely laws and rules.
Deliberating on the global regulatory framework on ethics, bribery and corruption, Shardul Shroff, Chairman, CII National Committee on Legal Services and Arbitration and Executive Chairman, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. suggested that ethically managed companies are essential to generate sustainable growth. He cautioned that integrity and transparency are vital components of governance that are not to be compromised.
Further, Deep Kapuria, Chairman, Project Steering Committee for Siemens Integrity Initiative by CII Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development and Chairman, The High Tech Group spoke about the CII-ITC CESD project on ‘Promotion and Adoption of Responsible Business Practices by Corporates in India’ under the Global Siemens Integrity practices. Highlighting the activities being undertaken in the project, he explained the overall ambit of the project which aims to create responsible business environment among corporates at different levels through its three objectives: Create, Educate and Sustain.
The Summit featuring panel discussions on ‘Economic Value creation through Governance’, ‘Human Rights: The Foundation of Sustainable Business’, ‘The Role of Compliance – in true letter and spirit,’ and ‘Strengthening Good Governance and Business Ethics – Tapping into the Best Character of the Organization’ was very well attended by more than 150 delegates.