Apropos Corporate Governance

Why should be we presume, as we seem to be doing, that corporate governance (C.G.) is something unique and different from government per se? Does it imply that so far corporate bodies were merely being managed and not governed? Or does it hint that the time has now come to shift the emphasis to governance, i.e. all the paraphernalia implied in the word 'government'? 

Discussions on C.G. invariably centre around the critical factor being the leader i.e. the CEO, and the brutal fact that he reports not necessarily to the majority shareholder but to the powers-that-be, and takes decisions on considerations other than strictly maximizing profit and safeguarding shareholders' interests. Each of these is a facet of governance at large and only goes to prove that insights worth anything will not come by trying to create a halo around C.G. as a new concept. It had rather be approached from the background of public administration and the hoary concept of government. 

Government came into being in order to protect the weak against the strong(matsya nyaya), ensure equity, justice, security to enable the carrying on of trade and agriculture so that the people could prosper. 

Unfortunately, post-liberalization C.G. is going precisely the opposite way. In the rural areas local lemonade units have been forced to close down because of the all-encompassing onslaught of Coke and Pepsi. Small scale units are facing closure for the same reason. The IMF/World Bank/other lending agencies all insist on a 'level playing field' in considering tenders, which means that the local SSI unit must compete on par with the giant. All pleas that the local economy must be protected and they must receive weightage are brushed aside. This is how a nation is systematically pauperized and brought to its knees. No lessons have been learnt from the IMF debacle in Indonesia. In the name of providing consumers with varied choice, the focus is on tickling greed so that glitter and show of excellently packaged goods sweeps aside traditional local produce that has proven itself to be sturdy and lasting (e.g. the much maligned but faithful Ambassador car, the SSI air conditioner, the local ice cream and lemonade, the locally made detergent and phenyl etc.). 

We might do well to recall what happened after the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa was handed over by the emperor of Delhi to the East India Company. How many million pounds sterling were siphoned off from India, pauperizing the country? Using trade, the shopkeeper of the world enslaved an entire nation. The same approach is seen now, and the same lauding of the new enlightenment flowing from the West [only, this time it is USA, not Britain] and how it is good for our people as improving their quality of life [though it is only enhancing their quantity of consumption]. By not reading our history, our elite are repeating a great mistake the price of which will have to be paid by the entire country, and by generations.  


More by :  Dr. Pradip Bhattacharya

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