Anti-corruption movements typically tend to focus on bribe receivers. This focus is well placed. Without dealing with the drivers of corruption (basically, socialist policy), no country can successfully deal with this problem.
However, there is another side to corruption, as well: the giving of bribes.
Potential givers of bribes face three choices:
a) Do not bribe and face possible loss of business
b) Bribe through an agent in a manner that can't be traced to the business
c) Bribe directly and record it as a legitimate expense of doing business.
When even the smallest "inspector" has the power to shut down your business, (a) is not a real choice. It is not a real choice when the truck you are driving has been stopped by police at a checkpost and they won't let you through till you pay them a bribe (else they may even beat you up). In India, most small businesses don't really have a choice to not pay a bribe.
But big businesses do have a choice. They CAN stop paying bribes if they really want to. But they don't. There are reasons for that, as well.
When late Chief Minister Hiteswar Saikia shunted me out from my role as Director, Rural Development, Assam because I refused to award a large cement contract to a private company that was not the lowest bidder, there were two basic problems involved: The TOTAL corruption of the (socialist) Congress party, but also the willingness of that private company to pay Congress a bribe to obtain an illegitimate business advantage.
A big company has the ability to not pay bribes but such companies know that if they don't pay bribes, then other large companies will do so, and their business will go bust, particularly where government is a large buyer.
At one time, option (c) was available to international companies that operated in India. They could officially record their bribes as a business expense. That option has now been removed through various amendments to Western country laws that forbid the payment of bribes.
Some big prosecutions have occurred in this area (e.g. of Siemens), thereby helping reduce the tendency of Western companies to bribe developing country public officials.
Such whole-of-business perspective is necessary, else corruption won't be controlled.
Therefore, it is necessary to bring in legislation in India that will severely punish companies that GIVE bribes. Only companies with turnover larger than Rs.10 crores should be roped in at this stage, since there are just too many small businesses which simply can't survive without paying bribes on a daily basis.
Bring such legislation into effect would ensure that (a) becomes a real choice for big Indian companies.
I wonder if big Indian companies would be willing to come together and demand such legislation. It will be in their interest to do so.
FTI would be (probably) be happy to help draft such legislation.
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