Washington: The record increase in bank accounts and toilets is indicative of India’s fight against corruption as government has abolished middlemen’s role in transactions and is keeping a check on money spent on sanitation, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said.
“If you want to know how well India is addressing its corruption problems, just take a look at bank accounts and toilets. That was the message from Smt Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s minister of state for commerce and industry, at the Fortune Global Forum conference on Tuesday,” Fortune magazine said in a news report published yesterday.
At the Fortune Global Forum conference in San Francisco, Sitharaman said in a little over a year, 190 million Indian citizens have opened bank accounts for the first time. The balances in the accounts are small, just an average of USD 21 per account.
Nevertheless, Sitharaman said, “financial inclusion” has been a major push of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration, not just because it can improve the finances of India’s poorest citizens, but because it also helps stamp out corruption, the magazine reported on its website.
When government workers are paid in cash, middlemen can take a portion of those wages. That has been the case with India’s pension payments as well. Today, the government can deposit money directly in workers’ accounts, eliminating fraud.
Sitharaman said that something as simple as counting toilets can offer a helpful glimpse into India’s progress in combating corruption. She said that for 60 years India provided money to put toilets into small villages around the nation. But many of those toilets were never installed.
But in the past year, the Indian government has made a major effort to verify the efforts to increase sanitation. And that has helped reduce corruption.
According to the magazine, Dominic Barton, a managing director at McKinsey, said that a recent report from the consulting firm found that government reforms in India were not only making a difference for the nation’s citizens, but such moves were also making the country more attractive to foreign businesses.
“Three years ago, when clients would ask about doing business in India, I would say, Don’t waste your time. It’s too complicated and too difficult. That’s changed dramatically,” he was quoted as saying.
During her San Francisco trip, Sitharaman also visited the Twitter headquarters in Silicon Valley, wherein Twitter launched emoji of Make in India, thus making it the first non US based brand.
She met its CEO Jack Dorsey and other senior executive.