Monday 22 October 2012

Remember Corporate Lobbyist Nira Radia?

Written by Anil Singh

Remember Corporate Lobbyist Nira Radia?

The lady, who headed Vaishnavi Communications, and who became a house-hold name after Radia Tapes surfaced on Youtube?

If you follow the news religiously, then you will also be aware that she has closed her company, Vaishnavi Communications. The public pressure on her, post Radia Tapes, proved too much for her.

That said, today's musing is not about Nira Radia. The musing today is a a profession or Job profile called "Corporate Lobbyist".

In the business world, Corporate Lobbyist, is an important Job. The role of a Lobbyist is to lobby for the business/company, which he/she represents.

In Business Dictionary, the definition of Lobbying, goes like this,

The act of attempting to influence business and government leaders to create legislation or conduct an activity that will help a particular organization. People who do lobbying are called lobbyists. People who do this for Corporate, are called Corporate Lobbyists.

Thus what was revealed by Radia Tapes, was the usual Job for Radia. Her job required her to talk to Corporate Big-wigs like Ratan Tata, Government ministers like A Raja and journalists like Rajdeep Sardesai & Barkha Dutt. But, the media portrayed the tapes, very negatively. If Businesses pay Party funds to political parties, they do so for some favor in exchange; and a Lobbyist tries to get them the favour, on their behalf. Thus a Lobbyist is indirectly affecting the Government policies, for his/her clients.

The act of affecting and influencing may look unethical to some; but this is how a Capitalist market works.

The way Indian Media handled the Radia tapes, shows its immaturity in handling this issue. One reason for it is that India is exposed to capitalism, only two decades ago.

In contrast, USA, the undisputed land of capitalists, is quite comfortable with Lobbying. Every Big company spends a big money n Lobbying. Just Search Lobbying expenditure of Google in the past year; and you will be surprised, this amount is in billions. The money is meant for Politicians sitting at Washington DC (and for Journalists and other opinion makers). Such is the USA's comfort with lobbying that you can easily find news reports criticizing Facebook for not having a proper Lobbying budget.

This comfort is seen, even in the kind of people doing Lobbying professionally. For instance, Ann Richards, a former Texas Governor and a US presidential candidate, did Lobbying, post retirement, from 1994-2006. Her biography hit the stands this month.

The primary objective of Today's write-up, is to dispel some myths surrounding Lobbyist; and put it in the correct perspective; so that if you as a youth has a gift of communication, business acumen and socializing; then you can take the profession of Lobbyist without second thoughts.


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