The Prime Minister said on Friday the government is seeking to criminalize bribe-giving by companies.
Tough laws against bribes should logically deal with both bribe takers and bribe givers. The UK Bribery Act of 2010 is one model that India can consider.
There are two reasons for caution. One, official corruption is mostly for personal gain, while company executives may pay bribes to get a job done. Two, there is the issue of where the buck stops: the CEO may be no more responsible for corrupt activities lower down in the organization than a minister with low-level corruption in his ministry.
That said, Indian companies can no longer behave as if they have no skin in the corruption game. Irrespective of whether a law to curb corporate graft is passed, companies need to write whistle-blower protection and tough anti-bribery rules into their corporate governance frameworks.