Saturday, December 11, 2010

Boliticos: Dirty learning or dirtily doing?

From Shekhar Gupta’s Dirty Business:

  • Those running the three main chambers — CII, FICCI and Assocham — would never admit it, but their power is now at its lowest point since 1991. The prime minister rarely, if ever, talks to corporate India. Government representation at the CII-World Economic Forum annual showpiece, the India Economic Summit, has rapidly declined over the UPA’s six years. In fact, the edition last month was the poorest of all. The prime minister of course gave it a pass; Pranab Mukherjee made a brief visit to speak in his stead, and then most of the top ministers stayed away. This year’s summit had probably the poorest levels of interest ever, sometimes presenting empty halls to reasonably serious panels. Similarly, under the UPA, official Indian representation at Davos has steadily declined. At the January 2011 Davos conference India is again the theme, for a rare second time in five years; and yet CII and the World Economic Forum are struggling to get senior ministers to represent the government. It is a strange paradox: 
  • And this when almost everyone, from Raghuram Rajan to The Economist to Newsweek rank crony capitalism as the biggest threat to the India story. 
  • India’s new billionaires come not from conventional manufacturing, IT or finance businesses, but from infrastructure, real estate and mining, where the state — and politicians — still hold arbitrary powers and, therefore, arbitrage. One land deal can produce more money than a dozen top members of India Inc, so why bother about them any more? This is the economic reason why corporate India feels so lost now. The political reason is simple. It is rooted in the Congress party’s faulty reading of the 2004 verdict as being against the BJP’s India Shining, and therefore against anything and anybody that represents that “fraudulent” idea. The logic being: poor farmers vote us to power, not fund managers. The question we need to ask is: what goodies can you take to the poor farmer, what rights to food, jobs, education, loan waivers if corporate India is not giving you growth, taxes, fiscal space, millions of new jobs? The top leadership of the Congress has to rectify this. It cannot take growth for granted. Particularly not when, disillusioned with policy flip-flops and fearful of a new backlash from New Delhi’s dreaded and now rejuvenated Bhavans, the biggest and finest Indian entrepreneurs are now moving their investments overseas. Tata now has nearly 60 per cent of his turnover overseas; almost all of Mukesh Ambani’s big investments over the next decade ($12 billion) are committed to America. Aditya Birla, Anand Mahindra, Essar, Bharti, are all looking outwards. It would be perilously complacent to mistake this flight of capital for globalisation of Indian enterprise. This is more a case of traditional corporates voting with their feet while the new billionaires of the crony capitalism of land-natural resources-politics get entrenched, hand-in-glove with the many Rajas of our scary new politics.

I do not know how many of you read the Self-Marxist Mr.Aiyar’s 1997 article. If not do read it now. Of course the motive writing of all these stories, yet merely stories have their own motives and purposes. I am posting some excerpts (it’s a must read one!!) from his article:

  • We now have a tricameral legislature: the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha and the Confederation of Indian Industry. So it was entirely proper for Inder Kumar Gujral to have sought a vote of confidence from the CII before submitting himself to the House of the People. He was merely acknowledging the growing role of the business lobby in determining the nation's destiny.

  • The business politicos (or boliticos, if I may coin a term), like their counterparts in the real game of politics, are a divided lot. They hide their identity behind a welter of acronyms leaving the layman (that is, you and me, dear reader) a little perplexed about who they are, what they stand for, and what distinguishes the one from the other.
  • There are three main business lobbies: CII, ASSOCHAM and FICCI. You know what CII stands for. ASSOCHAM is the Associated Chambers of Commerce, and FICCI is the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
  • What distinguishes one from the other is not that one is a confederation, the other no more than a federation, and the third a mere association. The rift runs deeper. CII speaks English, ASSOCHAM Indish while FICCI speaks Marwari. (ASSOCHAM also speaks ZEEndi).
  • CII went to Harvard; ASSOCHAM stayed at home; FICCI believes degrees are superfluous since accounts are to be carried not digitally but in the head.
  • CII uses state-of-the-art computers; ASSOCHAM uses state-of-the-mart typewriters; FICCI makes do with khatas.
  • CII wears designer suits; ASSOCHAM wears patriotic bandgalas; FICCI wears dhotis, tucking most of it, like their accounts, out of sight.
  • FICCI is Indian in origin. ASSOCHAM was British until the Brits went away. And CII has completed the voyage begun by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Five hundred years late, the Americans have found, through the CII, the route to India -- or, at least, the route to CII.
  • As a 60s socialist, I learned to see the CIA's hand in everything. As a 90s socialist, I am learning to see the CII's hand in everything. CIA stands for Central Intelligence Agency. CII stands for Chidambaram's India Inc.
  • What unites all three is that they believe the business of business is the business of the nation. CII is downright ashamed of the state of the nation. FICCI funded the freedom struggle and is vaguely proud of it. ASSOCHAM is still making up its mind.
  • Therefore, it is the CII which is the favoured son of the first finance minister we have ever had who is ashamed of his nation. Our twice-born finance minister chose the very month in which India should have been (but was not) celebrating the first Asian Relations Conference convention in New Delhi (March, 1947) to announce his life ambition of making India Asian!
  • Hacks being hacks, and as such made up, for the most part, of chaps who failed to get clerical jobs at FICCI, perhaps misheard ASEAN as Asian -- I don't know. At any rate, CII applauds the finance minister's decision to make India Asian or ASEAN, whatever, so long as he does not persist with the foolishness of keeping India Indian. They have no use for 5,000 years of identity. What they are looking for is cash in the till. And they have got themselves a finance minister who says he's gonna give it to them.
  • Oh! he will, attaboy, he will. For, after all, he went to Harvard.
  • "And how will he?" you, as a non-member of CII, ask.

No comments:

Post a Comment