Fact Check

Has the Government Treated India Inc As Pariah? Let the facts Counter Rhetoric

On the ongoing narrative on Indian economy, some industrialists have started arguing that there is a lack of consultation on the part of the government. It seems that such businesspersons are playing with words in their criticism as they find an audience in the political opponents who are seemingly enthusiastic to hail any such rhetoric as ‘courageous’, ‘speaking truth to the power’ etc., A couple of days ago, Rahul Bajaj has thrown a term ‘atmosphere of fear’ in his criticism of the present dispensation which we decluttered in our piece For Rahul Bajaj and All Those Speaking of ‘Atmosphere of Fear’, Here is How It Looks Like. Riding on this discussion, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Biocon Chairman said that the present government treats India Inc as ‘Pariah’.

All these try to establish that the government of the day is not providing an audience to the industry leaders rather going forward according to its whims and fancies. For a moment, let’s overlook the fact that both Rahul Bajaj a self-proclaimed friend of Nehru-Gandhi family and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw who was extensively consulted in drafting Congress manifesto for 2019 Lok Sabha polls, may have their political leanings. Let’s just focus on the question whether India Inc has really not been consulted by the government in dealing with the economy. Here too, facts emerge to the contrary.

FM Nirmala Sitharaman’s Response

Whenever such concerns were raised, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has always addressed them. The finance minister in her tweet factually rebutted the claim that industry has not been consulted by giving the specific dates of the meetings with industry leaders. It is another matter that Shaw has shifted her goalpost asking for sector specific meetings.

Anyhow this is how Nirmala Sitharaman rebutted the misleading narrative.

In fact, that the government had taken series of measures in regular intervals even after the budget which has also seen the slash in corporate taxes, makes it clear that they are constantly addressing the industry concerns.

The Consultations with Industry Leaders

It is very much in the public domain that the consultations have taken place with the concerned industries from time to time in addressing the concerns over economic slowdown. The series of measures from the government to boost economy apparently came from such consultations. See how various consultations took place onwards June 2019 which were reported in the press.

It was reported on August 9, 2019 that the top industry leaders Uday Kotak, TV Narendran, Dilip Sanghvi, Sandip Somani, BK Goenka, Sajjan Jindal had met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

In September 11, 2019 FM Nirmala Sitharaman met more than a dozen industrialists in Tamil Nadu. Among the persons who met the FM included the name of Sunitha Reddy of the Apollo hospital. So, when Kiran Shaw assumes that the health sector had not gotten an audience, she is wrong. The other industrialists who took part in the meet, according to a report in Business Line are as follows:

KM Mammen, Chairman and Managing Director of MRF; N Srinivasan, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of India Cements; PR Venketrama Raja, Chairman of Ramco Cements; Gopal Mahadevan, Chief Financial Officer of Ashok Leyland; Srivats Ram, Managing Director of Wheels India; TT Srinivasaraghavan, Managing Director of Sundaram Finance; and RG Chandramogan, Chairman and Managing Director of Hatsun Agro Product; Arun Jain of Intellect Design Arena; Sanjay Jayavarthanavelu of LMW; T Kannan of Thiagarajar Mills; and Padmaja Chunduru, Indian Bank’s MD and CEO.

As one can see, the representation was spread across the sector.

These consultations have evidently helped government in taking the measures to boost the economy. When the government went on to announce measures at regular intervals, it did take into the accounts of those concerns from automobile, housing, real estate and manufacturing sectors and had announced the steps accordingly. You may read them in our previous articles:

Series of Reforms Continue: Measures to Push Exports and Housing Sector

Has the Government Done Enough to Revive Automobile Sector?

Rs 25,000 Cr Government’s Booster to Real Estate – A Relentless Reform Mode

Pariah Attitude Towards Industry? – Read Rajiv Bajaj’s Account

After his father’s jibe of ‘atmosphere of fear’, Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director of Bajaj Auto, who is actually involved in running the day-to-day business of the company has disagreed with the former’s view.

In an interview to The Economic Times, Rajiv Bajaj said that despite his earlier criticism of the present government over demonetisation and electric vehicle policy, he was given an audience by Minister Nitin Gadkari and NITI Aayog chairman that facilitated for the approval of a project that was struck for eight years.

So, where is the ‘atmosphere of fear’ and where is the instance of government treating industry leaders ‘an outcast’?