Dr. Douglas Goold’s TI talk on India & corruption
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a talk here in Toronto hosted by Transparency International Canada. The speaker was Dr. Douglas Goold, Director, National Conversation on Asia, and Senior Editor, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, and his presentation was entitled “India: Will it ever shake its legacy of corruption?”. Here is a copy of his presentation from the TI-Canada website.
Three quick highlights that I noticed:
- India has almost become a ‘net giver’ of foreign aid, rather than a recipient – giving a majority of its aid to Afghanistan and Nepal.
- A Transparency International study of corruption in South Asia showed that citizens of India felt the most corruption occurs in relation to the Parliament and legislatures (more than in the business sector, for example).
- The speaker (and TI) emphasize the importance of reducing the opportunity for corruption by automating payment systems or paying government workers higher wages, for example – as opposed to only focusing on raising ethical standards around corruption.
I asked Dr. Goold about philanthropy in India and particularly corruption in the NGO sector. I was not entirely pleased with the response. Dr. Goold felt that there is no real culture of philanthropy in India, an assertion that I disagree with – especially in light of the Buffet/Gates visit to India recently. As we’ve explored here at SAPP, we believe that philanthropy does exist in India and in the South Asian diaspora, but it may not exist in the same ways that we would recognize in the West. And there is no data to really know anyhow.
We all need to be doing more for sure – and I’d rather focus our energies on (a) educating potential donors on how and where to give more money (here and abroad), (b) encouraging donors to collaborate with existing NGOs in South Asia rather than start their own, and (c) encourage all South Asians in the diaspora to consider volunteering and joining charitable boards. I found Dr. Goold’s presentation informative in terms of facts and statistics, but deficient in its tone, which came across as outdated and overly critical (on philanthropy at least).