India’s new assertiveness against foreign MNCs a fallout of the reforms undertaken

By: | Updated: January 21, 2019 6:56 AM

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) last week slammed auto major Volkswagen (VW) for not depositing `100 crore that the tribunal had ordered it to pay for causing “serious environmental damage” by using its engineering genius to fake emission reporting.

Last year, the NGT had ruled that Volkswagen’s “cheat device” caused environmental damage conservatively estimated at Rs 100 crore.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) last week slammed auto major Volkswagen (VW) for not depositing `100 crore that the tribunal had ordered it to pay for causing “serious environmental damage” by using its engineering genius to fake emission reporting. In 2015, when VW’s “Dieselgate” broke—the company was found guilty of fixing “cheat devices” in its diesel engines to meet US emission standards—the US extracted a heavy penalty . Last year, the NGT had ruled that Volkswagen’s “cheat device” caused environmental damage conservatively estimated at Rs 100 crore. A company spokesperson has now said that even though VW cars in India meet the country’s emission norms, it will still comply with the NGT order. The VW order, and the Centre pushing for Johnson & Johnson paying larger compensations to Indian patients who received its faulty hip implants show India has come a long way from the days of the Union Carbide fiasco.

India standing up to MNC-might today—decades after Union Carbide strong-armed the government into accepting a $470 million out-of-court settlement, against the $3.3 billion that India had sought, for exposing 500,000 to a toxic gas leak from its facilities that left 8,000 dead—reflects an assertiveness the country has perhaps acquired with growing economic strength. Post the 1991 reforms , India’s attractiveness as both a market and an investment destination has grown phenomenally. The strength to hold MNCs accountable in a degree commensurate with the action against them in developed jurisdictions may be an ancillary gain, but is nevertheless an important one.

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