India is the world’s largest democracy, known for lively debate and an active press. As the country has developed, however, the public has grown skeptical of both the media and politicians.

To promote greater transparency and accountability, Govindraj Ethiraj, a well-known business journalist, set up IndiaSpend, a non-profit that aims to generate data-driven journalism. Read more

Crime, ill-gotten gains and violence are closely linked with electoral politics in India and with 30 per cent of lawmakers in the outgoing parliament facing criminal charges, the issue of ‘money and muscle power’ in the world’s largest democracy has once again emerged as a serious concern in the ongoing general election.

Civil rights groups such as the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) have mounted a robust campaign to educate voters about the background of the candidates and have joined hands with 1,200 non-government organisations across the country to drive home the message. Read more

The Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka, a country that still represses civil liberties, has prompted attacks on the attendees and the body itself.

To Roger Boyes in the Times, the association of 53 states – including many frontier markets – is a “country club for corrupt leaders“. The Economist has urged the group to push more for free trade and freedom – or die.

Which raises the question: how badly does the Commonwealth fare when it comes to human rights and civil liberties? Do the Commonwealth nations of Africa score much better than those outside the club? Read more

When it comes to big EM companies and reporting standards, there is a lot to be desired. That’s the conclusion of a new report by Transparency International, which has compiled a scorecard for the 100 biggest emerging markets companies.

But not all EMs are alike. China in particular comes in for a lot of criticism. Read more

You are on national television in a country known for censorship. You are talking to one of that country’s most influential policy makers. What do you tell him? That the country’s companies have serious problems with transparency, ethical practices and treatment of employees. Are you dreaming?

Not if your name is Richard Edelman, head the world’s largest independent public relations company. It has just happened to you at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China. Read more

By Vinod Thomas of the Asian Development Bank

Indicators of country performance have received a great deal of attention lately in the wake of the controversy regarding the use of the World Bank’s Doing Business (DB) indicator—which ranks countries on the basis of eleven combined attributes of investment regulation. A good part of the recent debate has focused on DB’s country rankings.

Yet the principles and methods also deserve careful attention. A central analytical issue involves the gap between what an index is understood to measure and what it actually captures. Read more

It’s hard to quantify an authoritarian crackdown. How do you measure curbs on free speech? And when a protest movement has many facets and disparate aims, they can be even harder to gauge, let alone put in numbers.

However, when it comes to the internet, there is one source that shows how keen authorities in different countries are on stifling criticism and controlling the debate. And if anyone had been paying attention back in 2012, the current protests in Turkey might have been less of a surprise. Chart of the week takes a look. Read more

Tim Gosling and Nicholas Watson in Prague

A bribery and spying scandal that exploded onto television screens last week in a series of police raids on the prime minister’s office and other ministries has forced Czech premier Petr Necas to resign, in a move which will automatically bring down his government.

The resignation leaves his party and its partners scrambling to form a new centre-right coalition administration. But with the new leftist President Milos Zeman in office and an opposition riding high in the polls, early elections look increasingly likely. Read more

By Verónica Taracena, Guatemala’s Presidential Commissioner of Transparency and E Government

Infrastructure investment in Latin America is expected to total $450bn for the period 2011-2015. The OECD has estimated that, globally, 10-30 per cent of investment in infrastructure is lost from mismanagement, inefficiency and corruption. Unsurprisingly, many Latin American countries are calling for greater transparency and accountability in public infrastructure. Read more

The court verdict that this week found Janez Jansa, the former prime minister, guilty of accepting bribes in the long-running “Patria” procurement scandal surprised many and has further polarised the Slovene population.

For many outside observers, including European Union officials, it was a step in the country’s much-needed fight against corruption. But for Jansa’s conservative faithful, it was a shock – as shown in this video where one ardent supporter outside the courthouse castigates the “crazy judges”.

But will the verdict make any difference to the practical ethics of doing business in Slovenia? Read more

Slovenia’s former prime minister has been found guilty of taking bribes in a €278m arms deal in the biggest case of alleged corruption to surface in the troubled ex-Yugoslav republic.

Janez Jansa follows two other former premiers in the south east Europe to be convicted of financial wrongdoing, the ex-leaders of Croatia and Romania. Meanwhile in Serbia, the country’s richest businessman was arrested late last year for alleged embezzlement. A long-run campaign by the EU against corruption in its present and future new member states may finally be producing results. Read more

Enrique Peña Nieto’s clean-cut image is matched by his enthusiasm for transparency, a theme that ran through his election campaign and he has followed through while in power. The Mexican president and his Cabinet recently published audited statements of their personal income, properties and other assets. Read more

Ever been put off buying property in emerging markets because of a lack of market transparency? Well, it may be time to think again.

EM countries such as Turkey, until recently plagued by uncertainty, have made huge strides in real estate transparency, according to the latest biannual survey by Jones Lang Lasalle, an international real estate agent. Read more

Niira Radia, Indian corporate lobbyist,India’s top lobbyist Niira Radia, who represented the country’s two most powerful tycoons, Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani, has decided to exit the PR business a year after leaked tapes dragged her into the centre of the country’s multi-billion dollar telecoms scandal.

Her departure will rob Indian public life of a colourful character and reduce by one the myriad channels by which Indian business tries to influence Indian politics.  But her exit may be no bad thing for India’s scandal-tarnished democracy. Read more

not “punching above its weight”To the casual observer, South Africa might look like something of a poor relation at this week’s Brics summit on the lush Chinese island of Hainan. At 3.5 per cent, its expected GDP growth this year is by far the lowest in this club of high-growth economies. Its gross domestic product last year was just $357bn,  about one-sixteenth of China’s.

Yet when it comes to transparency and business standards, the other Brics could learn a thing or two from their new drinking buddy. Read more