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About Amit Varma

Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.

Bastiat Prize 2007 Winner

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08 July, 2008

Paperwork (aka The Corruption Rant)

One of my friends is in the process of setting up a new business, and I was chatting with him a few minutes ago. Here, with his permission, is an excerpt from the transcript:

[Friend]: I spent half a day in the excise department office yesterday
it’s one of the most depressing places on earth

me: jesus. bribes and shit?

[Friend]: yeah, paperwork

That says it all, but my friend then chose to elaborate, so here’s his unedited rant in full, which I throughly enjoyed, below the fold:

[Friend]: a hotbed of corruption
even the fucking driver wants money

me : monstrous
the driver? where do you meet the driver?

[Friend]: he acts like a peon when he’s not driving
moving files back and forth
every little dipshit there wants money
the typist wants money to type out the forms you need to fill
and to just type your name into the formal licence
the peon wants money to take your file into the Deputy Commissioner’s Office
the case worker wants money to give his approval for the documentation
the inspectors and sub-inspectors want a nice big chunk to give their oh-so-lofty approval for the enterprise you’re setting up
by the time you’re finished with all this, you’re poorer by a few lakhs
those idiots who favour “government regulation” should be made to endure this every day
because it doesn’t regulate shit
if you’re an honest businessman, you have to pay money anyway
if you’re a dishonest one, you just flaunt all the rules, pay more money, and continue doing your thing
So who gets fucking screwed? The honest one, of course
The system practically encourages dishonesty everywhere
what choice does a regular joe who wants to run a business have?
the tyranical goverment has a monopoly on licences and permits
the licence raj may not be as bad as it used to be, but it’s certainly not gone
the fuckers just refuse to move your file if you don’t pay the money
what are you gonna do? sit on a dharna till death outside?
talk to the cops? file a case in court?
there is nothing you can do
and invariably this “cost” of doing business is passed on to consumers
you could have been paying less money if it weren’t for this ridiculous system
People compare India to China, but at least there you get all your paperwork done without any fuss
A friend of mine (Indian) wanted to set up a garment export business there. Hired a lawyer, sent all the papers in, and got all her clearances in 10 days without paying a penny.
Good luck getting that done here in mera mahaan Bharat

Well, there you go. Thank goodness I don’t need a license to blog.

Also read:

A Beast Called Government
India’s Far From Free Markets
A Business Proposal
The Baptists and the Bootleggers


Posted by Amit Varma in Economics | Freedom | India

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