Transparency International has come up with an absurd report on corruption and transparency. The report ranks companies like Reliance Industries and Bharti Airtel ahead of Infosys and Wipro! Even Vedanta is supposedly more “transparent” than Infosys! Among the clean companies is Hindalco and Suzlon! What were Transparency International researchers smoking?

Transparency International (TI), a reputed organisation that measures the levels of corruption around the world, has come up with a report titled ‘Transparency in Corporate Reporting: Assessing Emerging Market Multinationals’, on corporate reporting inemerging markets. Its conclusions based on a ranking of three parameters—corporate anti-corruption programmes , organisational transparency and country-by-country reporting—will come as a shock to anyone who knows anything about corporate governance in India including disclosure and transparency. Tainted companies like the Vedanta come ahead of Infosys. Other dubious entries in the elite list include Reliance Industries and Suzlon! Reliance is ahead of even Wipro. TI calls companies like these “rising stars of the world economy”.
Of the 20 Indian companies featured, as many as six Tata companies were rated as paragons of transparency in corporate reporting. They are (in order): Tata Communications, Tata Global Beverages, Tata Steel, Tata Chemicals, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services. How is it possible that TCS ranks below Tata Communications? At the bottom of the list, far below Vedanta, Reliance and Suzlon is Bajaj Auto, an excellent company as  far as ashareholders, creditors, customers and other stakeholders are concerned.
This exceptional clean chit to the Tatas comes at a time when the Supreme Court has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate 14 specific issues based on the controversial Niira Radia tapes and various parties, of which Tata is one of them. The Tata Group, then led by Ratan Tata, was embroiled in the Niira Radia affair, where evidence of corporate lobbying was spilled out to the public and revealed that he was trying to influence the Telecom Ministry. Similarly, Bharti Airtel is also embroiled in the 2G mess. And there is Vedanta Group, which were trying hard to get permits to dislocate tribals of Odisha to build a bauxite mine in the environmentally sensitive area. Environmental activists protested and held a campaign titled ‘Foil Vedanta’ outside the company’s headquarters in London. Reliance Industries led by Mukesh Ambani, too has been embroiled in the Niira Radia affair.
Also figuring in the list is Hindalco, an Aditya Birla Group company which is now embroiled in the coal scam. The CBI filed a first information report (FIR) against coal secretary PC Parakh and also named Kumar Mangalam Birla, for alleged corruption forallotment of coal blocks in Odisha. More shockingly, as much as Rs25 crore of unaccounted cash was discovered in the office premises in Delhi. The company officials pretend to are clueless about this.
One must wonder if this was a sponsored report. TI put a note on the fourth page that read: “Companies covered in this report may support Transparency International chapters worldwide”. Is it paid research?
The three metrics used in the in this report were:
# Reporting on anti-corruption programmes (ACP): covering inter alia bribery, facilitation payments, whistleblower protection and political contributions
# Organisational transparency (OT): including information about corporate holdings
# Country-by-country reporting (CBC): including revenues, capital expenditure and tax payments


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