Monday, December 22, 2008

Art of getting independent directors to act

Why do independent directors discard independence? Protecting minority investors yield them nothing. That’s why.

If they dance with the founders/incumbent management, they get generous sitting fees, commissions, occasional foreign junkets, vacation homes and transport free for them and family. For ex-B School faculty and bureaucrats that deck up as independent directors (just to check the columns in the compliance sheets) these freeloads are incentive enough not to disturb the peace and quiet at Board Meetings.

Few have the courage to transcend political correctness (at Board level, read "Promoter Correctness") and strive for human righteousness. Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught – like the independent directors in (A)SATYAM COMPUTERS recently realized. In the end, if you have integrity nothing else matters and if you don’t have it, nothing else matters as well. So why load up excess baggage?

To the regulators, I would say please don’t slap more laws. We have enough. Laws control the lesser man. Right conduct controls the greater one. Have the courage to blacklist independent directors when they fail. Deprive them of all their Board seats and disqualify them straightaway. Companies Act has provisions for disqualification of directors already. Go enforce them.
Or better still, let the minority shareholders pool in and give them freebies :-)

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