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India’s Economic Growth Story Interrupted by ‘Corporate Bashing’

Indian corporates are being painted as nothing less than the villains of late 60s Bollywood movies. It will harm us.

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5 min read
Corporate India: Creation of wealth is not an immoral act. It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to create wealth.
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If we are done with bashing everything Indian, lets just take a break and import some common sense for the billion-plus nation which is hell bent on doubting everything indigenous. But dont get surprised if we all end up biting on some useless foreign wisdom – proposed and discarded in west but packaged and delivered to us via the national interest of China.

For past few years, Indian corporates have become the newest entrants in our national-bashing list who we have knowingly or unknowingly painted as nothing less than the villains of late 60s Bollywood movies.

Throwing all common sense out of the window, we have painted these corporates as those irresponsible entities who have not only looted our resources but have also stored their ill-gotten wealth on some distant island just like the East India Company. An island where they will escape to one day and spend rest of their lives chilling and making fun of every institution and establishment tasked with the only job to ensure a fair play in everything.

Is It Correct to Oppose Every Ambani-Adani Project?

But are we doing the right thing here?

The corporates have been turned into easy targets. Before the Ambanis and Adanis of the present time, there were the Tatas and Birlas of the past who were blamed for indulging in crony capitalism. Yes, some industrial houses benefitted immensely due to License Raj. However, those flourishing even in the highly competitive and regulated times are being targeted. Not only their image is being tarnished on the home ground, but distractors are also increasingly joining hands with foreign elements with vested interests to demonise entrepreneurs and the ruling government.

Many agenda driven critics, working as economic hitmen and driven by political agendas are compromising national interests and it is evident from their rhetoric against the Adani Group’s proposed power project at Jharkhand’s Godda that will supply electricity to Bangladesh.

Strangely, anti-development lobbies want China to have deeper penetration in Bangladesh and create further threat to India.

Similarly, this brigade is working hard to sabotage the group’s mining project in the name of environment in Australia that is better known as world’s leading coal exporter. To improve the standards of living of 1.38 billion Indians by doubling the per capita electricity consumption, renewable energy is not the solution. India needs rich coal and Australia also wants Indian investments to counter growing influence of China.

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How Corporates Can Lead India Ahead of China

While China has successfully portrayed itself as the Asian giant, we have to up the ante and not only grow in stature but make the world understand that we are not there to play second fiddle to anyone. Indian corporates have played an important role in this area and today we have the capability to offer almost the same or even better solution than China.

Right meaning corporates have thrived in the country under different political regimes at the centre. Dalmias, Mahindras, Goenaks, Munjals, Reddys, Ruias, Jindals, Birlas, Tatas, and—flavour of the season—Adanis and Ambanis are some of the time-tested business houses of our era on account of their professional and visionary approach.

They have succeeded despite centre being ruled by one party, and the states by other. While accusing them of political patronage, let’s not demean their strengths, capabilities, intentions, and will to prosper.

We need jobs and meaningful career opportunities to reap the demographic dividend. The responsibility of generating jobs should never be restricted to government alone.

Today, critics are misguiding people by criticising government for not providing enough jobs and also creating roadblocks for the entrepreneurs who are generating thousands and lakh of direct and indirect employment opportunities.

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Corporates Create Wealth, And it is a Good Thing

Creation of wealth is not an immoral act. It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to create wealth. Also, not all nickels and pennies are stolen—some are well-earned by people who have worked hard and smart for it.

If the corporates have created millions for themselves, they have shared billions as well in the form of various taxes, levies, surcharges, salaries, bonuses, perks, and other facilities.

We may like to believe so, but corporates don’t have a magic wand to manage their businesses. They simply hire educated, talented, and hard-working go-getters to plan, execute, and manage every aspect of their mammoth operations.

India can’t stay dependent on imports forever. But the irony is we protest when our own enterprises extract country’s natural resources. And the same protestors criticise both the government and entrepreneurs when they import those critical inputs. We don’t like foreign corporates to come and operate from our land, but we also disagree when our own corporates try to offer a solution. We tend to keep our eyes shut towards the fact that we too can do it and there is no need to “import” solutions every time you are planning to improve something.

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Let’s Not Cry Wolf Whenever a PSU Gets Privatised

It is difficult for corporates in a country like India to behave like monopolies. Thanks to the rapid evolution of information technology, stricter legal framework, and increased awareness among the citizens, it is neither possible, not advisable for corporates to think that they can live by the rules of the jungle. Those having concerns over monopolies should look at the dominance enjoyed by some of the public sector units that are the epitome of inefficiencies and wasting tax payers’ hard earned money.

We are full of complaints about low quality services offered by government-owned airline, railways, banks, power utilities, telecom, highways et al. Since liberalisation, we have seen how effective private companies can be when it comes to running the airlines, hotels, banks, hospitals etc, but we smell something wrong whenever there is a talk for disinvestment in our PSUs.

We have to understand that PSUs were promoted when there was a serious dearth of capital and entrepreneurship in the country that needed a lot of government support. But with time these PSUs have turned into loss-making monopolies reeking of poor management, administration, and vision. PSUs are driven by the babugiri, instead of visionary professional managers.

Instead of crying wolf after every single act of demonstration of our capability, for example – the biggest sports stadium, the vision for becoming the largest solar power producer, launching the biggest ever vaccine drive, one of the biggest ever national IT infrastructure, among others – lets join the bandwagon and empower the process with positive criticism – if any.

(Binay Kumar Singh is an author and columnist. He tweets @BinayBharat. This is a blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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