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1. Lobbying And Ethics

What is lobbying?

  • Lobbying is a deliberate attempt to influence political decisions through various forms of advocacy directed at policymakers on behalf of another person, organization or group. In India, there are no regulations on lobbying. However, periodic irregularities and corruption such as in Air Asia has put a question mark over the role of lobbying in democracy.


Ethical issues involved in lobbying

  • Paying a policy maker to vote in a favorable way or rewarding him or her after a vote with valuable considerations. If this practice were allowed, people and organizations with money would always win the day. This also contradicts the criteria of disinterestedness and selflessness of a public servant.

  • The question of Fairness arises when some lobbyists (such as those who have earlier served in public sector and have later joined private sectors) have easier access to lawmakers than others.

  • The virtue of impartiality gets undermined as on the local level, policy makers are often lobbied by people they know socially and have friendship with.

  • Lobbyists are advocates who represent a particular side of an issue, while lawmakers are the chosen representatives of the people. Therefore, their decisions must not be influenced in favour or on behalf of some particular people.

  • In order to represent their clients' interests, lobbyists often withhold significant information. This hampers transparency and effectivity of the process.

  • Unethical lobbying often creates conflict of interests and misuse of confidential information.


What framework should government provide for ethical lobbying?

  • OECD has developed Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying which governments must follow:

  • Provide a level playing field by granting all stakeholders fair and equitable access to the development and implementation of public policies.

  • Guidelines on lobbying should be consistent with the wider policy and regulatory frameworks.

  • Clearly define the terms 'lobbying' and 'lobbyist' when developing rules and guidelines on lobbying.

  • Countries should provide an adequate degree of transparency to ensure that public officials, citizens and businesses can obtain sufficient information on lobbying activities.

  • Enable stakeholders - including civil society organisations, businesses, the media and the general public - to scrutinise lobbying activities.

  • Foster a culture of integrity in public organisations and decision making by providing clear rules and guidelines of conduct for public officials.

  • Review the functioning of their rules and guidelines related to lobbying on a periodic basis.



  • Lobbying can provide decision-makers with valuable insights and data, as well as grant stakeholders access to the development and implementation of public policies. However, lobbying can also lead to undue influence, unfair competition and regulatory capture to the detriment of the public interest and effective public policies. A sound framework for transparency in lobbying is therefore crucial to safeguard the integrity of the public decision-making process.

July Ethical Issues

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