It is believed that crony capitalism may have led to suspicions over industrialists in general, and this isn’t any new phenomenon.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared that he’s not afraid to be seen with industrialists. Politicians may over the years have developed a dual standard about not wishing to hobnob in public with big businessmen while they are known to curry favour with them behind closed doors. Mr Modi is trying to set the record straight in acknowledging that industrialists do have a major role to play in the country’s development. There is an important message in this about the nation needing to shed any old and atavistic biases against private industry, that has contributed significantly to manufacturing, to creating jobs and contributing to social causes. Any criticism aimed at the PM, such as during the recent parliamentary debate on the no-confidence motion, may have had more to do with “crony capitalism”, rather than being targeted at all industrialists.
No one can have a complaint if governments are truly even-handed in dealing with private industry and allow overall growth in that sector too for the nation to progress. It is believed that crony capitalism may have led to suspicions over industrialists in general, and this isn’t any new phenomenon. However, to drag Mahatma Gandhi’s name into all this by recalling his extended stay on many occasions at Birla House was unnecessary, even though the reference was in no way pejorative and was in fact used to convey Gandhi’s honesty of intent. Born a baniya, Gandhi was well aware of the importance of industry’s contribution to nation-building. Industrialists were also a part of the freedom movement, most of them supporting it wholeheartedly. But Gandhi did not favour industry when he reached out to mill workers. And yet his was an inclusive “Majoor Mahajan” approach that was to facilitate smooth interaction between the workers and the owners.
The history of Indian industry will also throw light, right from the days of the “Bombay Club” and the “Bombay Plan”, on how industrialists sought capital, land, water, etc. on favourable terms to help establish industries quickly with their entrepreneurship. Indian industry has over time sought protection from international competition, and today some sectors are being overwhelmed by a deluge of Chinese goods, with that country seen as an active facilitator. It is important that Indian industry is encouraged to be competitive in creating infrastructure and providing an atmosphere so that industrial production can grow and India may benefit from economic growth, jobs and a positive social environment involving people’s lives. Not all industries can be run by the government and an equitable policy, striking a balance between the private and public sectors, alone can ensure that there is all-round development. None of this may be possible if all industrialists are tarred with the same brush as those who “loot and scoot” from the land.