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India in the top league in corruption, says Joseph Stiglitz

Nobel winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said, "The US, in its own style, is a good competitor to India in corruption."  One means of tackling corruption was to strengthen checks and balances and increase transparency in government affairs, he added.

K. R. Balasubramanyam | January 9, 2014 | Updated 22:27 IST
India in the top league in corruption: Joseph Stiglitz
Nobel winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. Reuters

Nobel winning economist Joseph Stiglitz thinks India is in the 'top league' when it comes to corruption.

In a brief interaction with journalists in Bangalore on Thursday, he added: "The US, in its own style, is a good competitor to India in corruption." Stiglitz was in Bangalore to deliver a lecture on globalisation, organised by Azim Premji University.

He discussed how the drug industry in the US had arm-twisted the government to pass favourable laws on drug pricing which benefited the industry, and cost taxpayers as much as $500 billion. "A fraction of this money goes to campaign contributions," he said.

The Indian government, he added, sold telecom licences and coal, but it could have got more money and invested more in the public sector.

"There are two aspects to corruption. There is corruption in the public sector and in the private sector. We tend to ignore the latter. It is the private sector which is the biggest bribe giver," said Stiglitz, though this was more in the context of the US.

One means of tackling corruption, according to him, was to strengthen checks and balances and increase transparency in government affairs.

On the specific challenges before India, he said there were huge gaps in infrastructure , technology and education . Even if India wanted to expand its education network, it would find there are not enough teachers. At another level, India could not borrow even if it wanted to invest in these sectors - unlike the US which borrows cheaply. The only option would be to increase taxes to raise resources. People in Sweden pay the highest taxes in the world but they did not mind because the government spent the money well.

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