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Corporate lobbying should be done in public: Pilot

June 17, 2013 17:03 IST

Stressing the need to clearly define what constitutes the legal lobbying activities by business groups in India, Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot on Monday said lobbyists should present their views to policymakers in public and not behind the closed doors.

"I think, there should be a very clear definition of what constitutes corporate lobbying in India, given the arrival of large number of foreign companies on Indian landscape.

"Advocacy, speaking up and informing is very much part of democracy," the 35-year old minister told PTI in an interview, while calling for a clear definition to what is right and what is wrong when it comes to lobbying.

Observing that the word 'lobbying' has a negative connotation in India, Pilot said: "If you are doing something that is going to better inform the policymakers why not do it in public and not behind closed doors?"

The issue of lobbying, especially by the US-based companies operating or seeking to operate in India, had led to an intense debate within and outside Parliament late last year after it came to light that global retail giant Walmart was spending millions of dollars on lobbying before American lawmakers on various issues, including market access in India.

Following demands from various political parties, the government had set up an inquiry committee to look into the Walmart matter and the panel submitted its report to the Corporate Affairs Ministry last month.

Pilot, who is on a visit to the US, said the report would be presented, along with comments and observations of the ministry, before the Parliament in the monsoon session.

Noting that lobbying is practised as part of normal business activity in most of the industrialised nations, Pilot said a discussion among various stakeholders is required in India on what constitutes legal lobbying. 

Prakash M Swamy in New York
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