ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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'Crony Capitalism' to the Fore

Even a mild rap on the knuckles of the private corporate sector by a capitalist-friendly prime minister ruffles its feathers. When Manmohan Singh gently admonished the captains of industry at the Confederation of Indian Industry’s annual conference against the socially explosive fallout from the conspicuous consumption indulged in by over-compensated promoters and top managers, the mainstream corporate media immediately pounced upon him, with a leading newspaper editorial accusing him of “making the rich fearful”, and one commentator lamenting that inequality in our society was increasing “not because of capitalism but because of the limited spread of capitalism”.

The reactions reflect the cult of abrasive self-seeking that has overtaken large sections of the Indian upper middle classes who are emerging to form a strong constituency for the business elite in today’s politics. Intimately bound up with the corporate sector through direct employment or a variety of business deals, professional contracts and patronage, they are advocating an increasing role for business magnates in government decision-making to replace the widely condemned corrupt politicians and laggard bureaucrats. Bolstered by support from these sections of the Indian public, and armed with dubious chits from glossy international business magazines that have ushered them into the charmed circle of global billionaires, the ambitious members of the Indian corporate sector are now asserting their right to shape and execute India’s economic policies. At their behest, ruling politicians – irrespective of party affiliations – are opening up major sectors of the economy to the big business houses, ignoring the plight of the ‘aam aadmi’ (whether the threat faced by small traders from the entry of the Ambanis into retail trade, or by farmers from the encroachment on their land by the Tatas).

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