This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Gautam S Kumar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

India Inc Doesn’t Want You To Know Which Political Parties It Funds!

More from Gautam S Kumar

By Gautam S Kumar:

Accountability and Transparency, two ideals that are central to any democracy. Two ideals, without which, democracy is impossible. Naturally, any law that gives more emphasis on any of these ideals should be welcomed with both arms by a country’s citizens. Then why is India Inc throwing a fit over the revised Companies Act that aims at doing just that?

Can there be any justification to their stance or are they just blatantly against transparency as their reaction would initially suggest? Our quest for answers begins(quite inevitably) with the act itself.

India Inc

The revised Companies Act’s section 182(3) states : “Every company shall disclose in its profits and loss account any amount…contributed by it to any political party…giving particulars of the total amount contributed and the name of the party…”. The previous version of the law allowed companies to name persons while disclosing political funding and most companies thus refrained from naming any party.

This very section that aims at improving transparency has caused India Inc ( the formal sector of the nation), to throw a tantrum and demand its ‘right’ to secrecy. The issue has been taken so seriously by the formal sector that it has led to the CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) writing to the government, suggesting this particular section be altered. The report says the private industry is apprehensive that full disclosure may lead to a backlash from parties that are ‘less generously funded’ in what one executive called ‘a volatile democracy of ours’.

What I believe this act aimed to do was to empower people. This would enable the people to know where exactly their money was going once they spend it on some service offered by the formal sector. The people can thus make more informed decisions, and would not end up funding something that they were against or did not believe in. Another important point to be noted is that companies in ‘developed’ nations like the USA already disclose this information. Warren Buffet (CEO Berkshire Hathaway) openly supports the democrats and his largest contribution of $30,800 was to the Democratic National Committee in 2011. Exxon Mobil Chairman & CEO Rex Tillerson on the other hand gave the same amount to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Now, while one can argue that since Rex Tillerson and Warren Buffet have had no issues in disclosing who exactly they funded, the same can apply here as well. One must also concede to the fact that the political scenario in India is vastly different. Give generously to both sides, and one will surely win (one of the perks of having just two sides?). But for our very own desi corporates, it is cheaper to keep the recipient under wraps. It is way easier to stick to the philosophy that a politician (or the company) can’t be hurt by what he does not know.

A university of Pennsylvania study suggests that India Inc seeking to maintain its anonymity over its funding may not be without due reason after all. In their research, M. V. Rajeev Gowda and E. Sridharan argue that secrecy in political donations became an imperative for political parties because black money was so entrenched into the system and businesses had to deal with such a wide range of parties in power in the central and state governments post the re-legalization of corporate funding in 1985, that corporates found it difficult to come above board for the fear of facing the wrath of rivals that were not supported.

What this shows is that the largely negative public response to India Inc’s move is sadly another case of jumping the gun. Nothing is as simple as it seems and this holds true for this particular case as well. People forget to take all aspects into consideration before they point fingers or make judgements. One of the key features of our political scenario is that despite two decades of economic liberalization, Indian businessmen are still highly vulnerable to discretionary government actions. Starting, operating or expanding a business requires government permission at both state and central levels. The real problem thus becomes the fact that there has been too much discretion vested with the government and the government is thus in a position to arm twist at will. This has given birth to an electoral system which is largely run on black money derived from extortion.

Industrialist Rahul Bajaj had openly hinted at a CII conference in 2011 that most political funding happened through black money generated from corporate houses. “Where does the political party gets its funds from? Come on, I’ve been in Parliament for four years. It’s not cheques, it’s not by small members. All money comes in through black money. Black money doesn’t come from heaven”

Now, where does all this leave us? While it may be true that the revised act aims at providing the public with more information and thus improving transparency, we must also realize that it comes at a cost. What we the public must ask ourselves is, will knowing who the Birlas or the Tatas or Ambanis bankrolled, be worth the price we will have to pay? We must realize that it always comes down to the common man. Here, the common man’s quest for transparency might take him/her to a country where the services he/she receives is drastically reduced. Expansion of businesses will slow down acutely, the number of new services springing up will tumble.

Furthermore, any move aimed at making white money donations any less opaque would only result in an increase in black money transactions. And hence, we are left with a final question, is upholding the ideals of transparency and accountability(to an extent) worth its after effects?

You must be to comment.
  1. Ishan

    One must do what is morally correct, Other things automatically falls in place, the things mentioned can be a problem for a while, but in the long term one need not worry on these issues.Here Accountability and Transparency is Morally correct.

More from Gautam S Kumar

Similar Posts

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By Hariaksh Kamal

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below