5 Businesses that thrive on Corruption

Businesses serve a need, an unmet need of its customers. Sometimes they create the need and then serve them. Sometimes the need exists because the ones who are supposed to serve the need are not doing their job properly. Here is my list of 5 such businesses.

Drinking Water: Till about a couple of decades back, we used to drink tap water and I do not remember having any problems because of that. Today, in all major cities in India – you cannot have tap water directly and most of the times even boiling does not work. It gave birth to two industries – water purifiers and bottled water.

If the government could ensure clean drinking water to us, both these industries will shut down tomorrow. A simple question – if bottled water companies with basic facilities and limited workforce can take its bottles of water to far reaching corners of the country, why can’t our government agencies do the same with already laid pipelines and public funds and huge organizations at their disposal.

Inverters & Generators: Electricity is a basic necessity. Our lives come to a stand still if we do not have power for some time. Industries are completely dependent on power and a drop in power supply directly impacts their output. The need to ensure uninterrupted power supply gave birth to manufacturing of Inverters and Generators – more of the later that again runs on another non-renewable energy source.

The cost of running generators is far higher than providing electricity. If our state could provide reliable electricity supply these industries would go and so would a lot of pollution – noise and air. Have you ever walked in Delhi streets on a summer afternoon with generators making it impossible to talk to anyone?

I understand the need for electricity is more than supply at the moment. Can we work on reducing consumption so that the need comes down and hopefully per capita availability goes up? I know this is too simplistic, but then are not simple solutions the need of the day.

Security services: We see these security guards with no training in their usually blue or grey uniforms outside every building including some homes. Are these guards are really capable of providing any security except help with some opening / closing of gates and maintaining a list of visitors – that too as entered by the visitor. They do not look trained, can hardly be called physically fit and usually have no weapons with them. They have no legal rights to do anything with the threats and criminals and at best can raise an alarm that too if they can take their ears off that music being played through the phone or stop talking on the phone. What are they protecting us from? Are they not giving us a psychological false sense of security?

Why do we need this extra cover- because our state agencies are not giving us that sense of security! If the police could be trusted and hopefully collaborated with, we would not need security agencies. The capable people employed in this industry could be a part of the state security services.

Courier Services: No one can boast of a better network than Indian postal services for posts, parcels and money transfer. The cost of their services a fraction of what the private players offer. Only thing they do not offer is a guarantee that the item sent would reach and if it would reach in time.

Private Courier services on the other hand guarantee a service delivery at a given time and for that they are able to charge a hefty premium.  I understand the postal services may need an upgrade both technically and human resources wise, but then is it not the attitude of the people at our ubiquitous post offices that is fueling the growth of courier companies. Postal services are also missing out on the large e-commerce boom that they could have so easily tapped on benefitting both the department and the common citizen in far off villages.

NGOs: Most of the work that NGOs engage in (funded or otherwise) should ideally be done by the society itself backed by the state. If education is provided for, a fair percentage of NGOs would knock off, if social justice was provided to people on the margin another set of NGOs would be useless. If there is more equity in the society, most NGOs would not be needed. No NGOs and no need for funding for ulterior motives.

Can you think of anymore businesses that exist because of corruption? If yes, share your thoughts.

Anuradha Goyal