Respect the creators of wealth for a favorable economic environment


Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, India aims to grow into a $ 5,000 billion economy in five years, up from around $ 3 trillion today.

Can India succeed, or shall we say, right? The goal may seem ambitious, but is certainly not beyond the indomitable spirit of Indian business!

What is essentially required is a political and bureaucratic commitment to work overtime to do a “sare jahan is aching‘Bharat, by creating an ecosystem that frees the “animal spirits” from Indian affairs.

For a long time, India has been trapped in socialist dogma, a maze of rules and regulations and an about-face in policy making. A fundamental shift in mindset is needed – unless abundant wealth is created, no amount of “equitable distribution” will ensure ease of living for the poor. Unfortunately, job creators are seen as leeches, to put it bluntly.

Very aware of this, Modi, from Gujarat – a state where “making money” is not looked down upon – said in his Independence Day speech this year that the creators of wealth should be honored. From the ramparts of Fort Rouge, he said that the people involved in the creation of wealth were, for him, “the wealth of the country”.

He stressed that people should stop viewing wealth creators with suspicion and deserve more respect. Greater wealth creation would lead to greater distribution and the well-being of the population. “Our investors should invest more, earn more and generate more jobs,” he said.

Modi’s text message to Ratan Tata asking him to set up a Nano car factory in Gujarat after being tracked down in Singur, West Bengal, is history. The Singur episode highlighted the pervasive and endemic anti-success and anti-wealth mentality in our society, including some of the political leadership and bureaucracy. This must change for India to realize its growth potential.

Our business ecosystem has changed since the days of Prime Ministers PV Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh, but the job of dismantling the chains is only half done.

A few years ago, Gautam Adani had no audience with the “political CEO” during his visit to Bihar! He then created an industry in neighboring Jharkhand.

The recent cancellation of big contracts signed earlier in Andhra Pradesh is indicative of the freakish functioning of some of our politicians. These underscore the deep-rooted discomfort in our mindset that wealth is bad and the rich are bad people!

Eminent jurist and economist of yesteryear, the late Nani A Palkhivala once pointed out, citing figures, that the number of jobs created so far in government and in organized industry was almost the same. This meant that those engaged in production in the industry were regulated by an equal number of government officials. An unbalanced development model, to say the least.

It was still Palkhivala who had made a distinction in the color of black silver. Money earned by a doctor in private practice is made by perfectly legal means but turns black so as not to be declared on income tax returns.

On the other hand, the money earned on the sly by politicians, government officials, smugglers, smugglers, etc. does so by clearly illegal means and is also hidden from the IT department. Yet top government politicians and babus are held in high esteem, while wealthy businessmen and industrialists are seen as bad people!

The Modi government has repealed some laws and simplified others, but there is still a long way to go. In 1990, a major English daily newspaper in Gujarat used to appoint a businessman in a computer case only after conviction, and not after a raid. It is a moot point whether this kind of respect for the creators of wealth is possible in these times of media boom.

If we do not want to bequeath misery and poverty to our children, society must shed its anti-investor, anti-wealth-creator, anti-performer and anti-success culture. Prime Minister Modi struck the right note in his Independence Day speech. For his part, he should continue to focus on clarity and stability in policymaking, and avoid any flip-flops.

(The author is a journalist)


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