In 1986 as a rookie salesman, I was working for an electronic typewriter marketer and was posted in the port city of Vishakhapatnam in South India. I made my first sale to Director General of Naval Projects (DGNP), a Government of India joint venture with the erstwhile USSR. They were, according to my unconfirmed sources, involved in some hush-hush project on submarines. Anyway, I was thrilled at my first sale of a princely sum of INR 23000 (now about US$ 470; not much but compared to a manual typewriter costing US$100, it was a great introductory sale). My joy was short-lived as I wasn’t able to collect the check. The clerk was parrying it with a number of silly reasons, none of them justifying the delay. After innumerable trips to the Accounts Payable, it dawned on me that there was some other reason, which I was not able to figure out. I bet those of you who are from the above countries would have got it by now. Yes sir, the man wanted ‘baksheesh’, a euphemism for bribery. When I accosted him in the employee canteen, he told me that I should help him so that he can help me! I paid him INR100 (US$2) and collected my check.
Even today, the scene has not changed much. We still give ‘baksheesh’ and get things done, especially when we deal with government or quasi-government agencies. Most Indians consider this practice as a necessary evil and don’t give it a second thought.
When we were asked by 3 of our corporate customers – an electronics OEM manufacturer, a medical equipment major and an industrial gases market leader, all with a strong presence in more than 100 countries, to develop eLearning courses on FCPA, our teams went ahead. We even developed an off-the-shelf course on the Anti-corruption Laws for those who want a generic course.
Out of curiosity, I went through some of these courses. My immediate reaction was that this law is very difficult to follow in India. It will definitely be interesting to read the experiences of those who worked in these countries, setting up off-shore facilities or managing them.
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