There’s a deep and deepening sickness within middle class India. It is prompting this 300 million-strong and growing class to speed like demented lemmings towards self-destruction. Whenever an individual of Indian origin makes it big abroad — as in the latest case of Ajay Banga, former CEO of Mastercard, selected by US President Joe Biden to head the World Bank — there is nationwide jubilation. But if a native Indian makes it big like business tycoon Gautam Adani recently, allegations of influence-peddling, fraud, stock-price manipulation and skullduggery disrupt Parliament and dominate media headlines.
Adani is accused of artificially boosting the market value of the equity shares of group companies and running up huge debts by pledging inflated value shares as collateral. Yet the plain truth is that the Adani Group has tangible, high value fixed assets worth billions. This has not prevented India’s allegedly educated middle class from dumping Adani Group shares en massse.
According to Rahul Gandhi, leader of the opposition Congress party, Adani made his billions because of the grace and favour of prime minister Narendra Modi. How can this simpleton understand that the most the PM can do for Adani is to put in a word to grant a licence or two. The PM can’t run ports, manage power plants, and raise money for Adani. It is his extraordinary business management capabilities that have enabled his ascent up the Forbes rich list.
Not that Adani is entirely blameless. What’s the point of being the world’s richest individual if you can’t hit back? The deafening silence from Ahmedabad is disappointing.