Does INDIA stand for I'll Never Do It Again ?? I cringed and held my head in shame as I listened to this podcast - this series is one of my personal favourites and represents some of the best of the BBC. It ends with a quote from a guy who did something Indians were very proud about - run the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games . But he says, "I'll be very happy to ignore India. There are plenty of other places where they pay their bills ". Listen to the podcast if you can - it is only some 5 minutes or so.
Is India one of the most difficult places in the world to do business ? In a recent World Bank survey, India came in at a staggering 134th out of 183 countries in the ranking of the places easiest to do business in. It is easy to dismiss such rankings, as indeed the podcast, as biased and taken out of context. For after all, doesn't India have a vibrant and surging economy. Surely it can't be a bad place to do business and still be growing like it is. Alas the sad fact is that it is growing like it is despite the fact that it is one of the difficult places to do business in.
Take the instance of the Commonwealth Games contractors which is the subject mater of the above podcast. There has been allegations of corruption over the Games. So what do we do - jail the head of the organising committee without a trial and stop all payments to all contractors associated with the games. And let this meander along for years. It is appalling conduct. Every contractor is not corrupt. Just freezing all payments is no different from piracy. And we are supposed to be a country where there is rule of law. Try taking the government to court. You may get a judgement after you are dead. India ranks second last in the list of countries where you can enforce a contract - bested only by East Timor.
For a start, we have to abolish the Indian Standard Time. Every decision cannot take years. Government cannot take years to allow an investment or set a policy. Courts cannot grant a stay for years to some aggrieved party. They cannot take years to enforce a contract. Contractors cannot take years to finish a job. We cannot accept being late in completing anything as a national characteristic.
Unfortunately, given the spate of corruption scandals that have infected the country, all decision making has come to a standstill. Nobody is deciding anything for fear of being labelled as corrupt . You see, you cannot be accused of corruption if you never decide anything. There are no penalties for absolute inaction.
This is an awful state of affairs crying out for leadership, with a capital L. A leader who can stand tall and do the right thing.A leader with a clean conscience, who can motor ahead and act without fear. Being terrified and standing still is downright cowardice. But alas, such a leader is not visible even on the distant horizon.
I cringe and cringe when I see "I'll Never Do it Again" as an acronym for India. But I am afraid, there is an element of truth in it.