Monday, December 30, 2013

An unholy nexus binds Government to industry

From the Planning Commission and the apex bank endorsing corporate events organised by shady consultancies to the Finance Ministry supporting toothless industrial lobbies, the political class signs in tune with India Inc
We all know how UPA2 has stopped performing and is scoring poorly in most of areas. This well-choreographed plan is a rare phenomenon in realpolitik which re-defines the Darwinian principle of existence (Charles Darwin tried to, wrongly, make us believe that only the fittest can survive).

The existential quest is blurred, and configured so that action is presented as sin and inaction as unwavering virtue. Those in Government are a happy lot, but escapist business honchos are disturbed. They are not getting their favours on time — a throwback to the slow socialist days. This is a funny situation, especially when the country has no dearth of ‘non-performing assets in the form of some corporate leaders. The list is long but deserves not to elaborated.

There are countless activities in India’s burgeoning metro cities where the beleaguered corporate lot, mostly from the wonderland that is the West, has foolish interests. But here the safeguard to national interest is coming through collective angst. This is a sort of strength for new India that trounces Goldman Sachs and WalMart and the insightfully-poor rating agencies’ hope of making the country a parking lot for many of its useless minds.

The corporate world is in desperation, as it genuinely finds it difficult to stay exuberant beyond the happy premises of five star hotels — momentary relief though comes quite often, as India’s Finance Ministry is fully committed to acknowledging the events of toothless industrial lobbies and shady consultancy companies.

Nothing is taken for granted at such events — so everything is productive and meaningful within that ambit. A photo session with a Cabinet Minister has its high demand, speaking from the dais (before an indifferent and slumbering audience) is important, being front-running sponsor of an event has its value.

The Reserve Bank of India and the Planning Commission also support such corporate events where we hear many useless speeches. But despite the good tuning between the Government and business sector, those with money are still sad souls in India.

This might be because, sometimes, the cycle fails and then layoffs begin. At this stage, the top honchos recall the value of money and in the process goes back to the long-discredited economist Adam Smith (sadly, he couldn’t understand the discipline). But the tragical wind is unbiased, and it is dutifully blowing across all the sectors. Job cuts are all-pervasive including within the media which silently suffers much management atrocities.

Another area of unethical exploitation is the intellectual festivals. The Tehelka-Tarun Tejpal-Think Fest episode is a good case in point. Generally speaking, these conditions should have kept the humour alive in business circles but as the tough reality of the current situation is known to all, the sentiment will be in a jittery state.

The boom-time of ignorance is over now. The chances of course-correction are also few, especially given the current functional arrangement of the industry-Government dynamic. So, to be sure, in the time ahead, the Indian economy will seem to be more shocking than entertaining. Besides a failed Government, the corporate sector too has to be held accountable for its inability to rise to the occasion and make the most of several opportunities that have presented themselves over the years.
-Atul K Thakur
(Published in The Pioneer,on December06,2013)

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