Aspiring prime minister Rahul Gandhi often asks why business tycoon Gautam Adani is so “close” to prime minister Narendra Modi. A better question would be: can any industrialist or businessman afford not to be on the right side of any politician, especially the prime minister.
The plain truth is Rahul’s great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, a professed historian, overlooked the reality of ancient India’s sound tradition of private enterprise for over five millennia which had transformed this subcontinent into the world’s wealthiest region contributing 20 percent of global annual income right until the mid-18th century. He imposed “a socialistic pattern of society” upon newly independent India and strangled private enterprise. Following Rahul’s great grandfather, his granny and daddy who succeeded each other as prime minister with monotonous regularity, continued to ram licence-control-permit legislation through obliging parliaments, smothering private enterprise while decreeing promotion of hundreds of Soviet-style public sector enterprises.
According to a 2021 research study conducted by the Observer Research Foundation and TeamLease Ltd, private companies in India are subject to 1,536 laws, of which 678 are enacted by the Union government and 858 by state governments. Within these laws private enterprises are subject to 69,233 ‘compliances’, of which 43,966 are mandated by state governments and 25,537 by the Centre. That’s not all. 20,805 ‘compliance clauses’ in state legislation and 5,230 decreed by the Centre mandate jail sentences ranging from three months to 10 years for non-compliance. All this despite liberalisation of industry in 1991. That’s why it makes good sense for anyone aspiring to establish large scale, world-class companies to be close to the prime minister and other worthies.
Meanwhile according to a front page headline in the highly-respected Chennai-based daily The Hindu (February 10) 225,000 businessmen and professionals renounced their Indian citizenship and fled abroad in 2022. Last productive citizen leaving, switch off the lights. The electricity may restart.