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For over centuries business enterprises have been existent in India. The family-run business was (and still is) the most common form of conducting business which existed with various other forms, such as gana, pani,puga, vrata, sangha, nigama and sreni in the Vedic Age & Mauryan Empire. It is interesting to note how the mode of carrying out businesses has not undergone a lateral shift. These business organizations though primarily formed for carrying manufacturing business were also responsible for undertaking social activities and fostered social development from their profits. The modern perception about business enterprises is that they need to shoulder social responsibilities apart from sustenance & profit earning.

 

The post liberalization (after 1991) period has witnessed upsurge in private business and new regulations have been formulated to regulate them. These regulations aim at catering to the growing needs of the corporate governance and pressure from various institutions and bi- or multi-lateral agreements both nationally and internationally such as Securities Exchange Board of India, Reserve Bank of India, etc. and International Organization for Standardization, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, etc. respectively. Not only institutional changes have been incorporated but the framework has also changed based on relationship between nations bilaterally and multilaterally. These have subsequently brought into fore various agreements which regulate business conduct either directly or indirectly. Therefore, the business environment is guided by multifarious factors. India has significantly responded to these factorial changes and the law of the land regulating them has been amended in resonance with the national & international needs.

 

However, the fact cannot be unheeded that laws alone cannot ameliorate the business environment. Because laws if not implemented properly are tigers without tooth. For the proper implementation of laws, changes have been introduced in the Companies Act. But the effectiveness of the Act to curb the existing menace can be gauged with the passage of time. However, that brings us to an important question – Whether laws have the capability to impute ethical value in the business environment? This question finds its relevance in the fact that compliance today has become characterized by a ‘tick-box approach’ which does not serve the purpose of promoting ethical, value based and investor friendly business practices in India. The answer to the question cannot be cribbed, but the aim of cleaning business environment can be better achieved if we are well aware about the laws and their outreach.

 

In order to increase awareness about the role of laws and various amendments which have been forwarded for strengthening the corporate governance structure in India, CII Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development in collaboration with National law University Delhi’s Centre for Transparency and Accountability in Governance is organizing a Knowledge Café Session aiming at focused group discussion between various stakeholders. The Knowledge Café Session would be held on the topic ‘Role of Laws in Promotion of Business Ethics’ at the NLU, Delhi Campus on 30 March, 2017 from 1000-1300 hrs. Centre for Transparency and Accountability in Governance, National Law University Delhi has been constituted to upholdthe commitment of the rule of law and good governance. The Centre emphases on sensitizing people on transparency and accountability in governance; empowering people such as students, lawyers, and public officials to contribute effectively to ensure transparency and accountability in governance; and creating and promoting quality research in the area of transparency and accountability in governance. The Centre also provides, free of cost, for training, sensitization and consultative services on RTI to people. The Centre has organized national and International Conferences on good governance issues. The deliberations in the Knowledge Café Session would elucidate on the question whether Indian laws promote ethics in organization or only promote compliance with the corporate governance standards.