In response to the rising criticism from the Opposition parties, the PM said at a recent conference, that he is not afraid of standing next to industrialists, unlike some Opposition leaders. He also attacked his political rivals for dubbing industrialists as chor and lootere. While the PM has always been seen in the company of big industrialists, he was yet a bit mindful of Rahul Gandhi’s sarcastic jibes of being called a ‘soot boot ki sarkar.’ With an election year on the cards, he seems to have shed these inhibitions and openly stood in support of the big fat industrialists. He is India’s PM and should be seen with the big and small alike, but then the big comes with insouciant glamour, and thus easily hit the national headlines. It also makes news because, in recent times, the big have grown much bigger, at the cost of the small, who have grown much smaller, thus increasing inequalities, which polarise society.
But the big ones matter for the economy. It is they who marshall big investments into huge projects, that build national wealth, produce goods, add to GDP, generate jobs, pay taxes and foster national development. Apart from providing jobs, in the shadow of/attached to these big enterprises, a subsidiary breed of entrepreneurs grow, as ancillary vendors and suppliers of raw materials, components, labour etc. which spreads cheer and prosperity. But that has not been unfortunately so, this time, with the might of the big having multiplied and the wealth of the small having got divided/fragmented, adding to a growing class antagonism, that the big and the rich tend to exploit others. The small has suffered in recent years in India and to keep them mollified, the government throws in sops like farm loan waivers, universal health care etc. which does not add to the long-term welfare/prosperity of the small sector. The inequality is even evident in loan write-offs, where the entire loan write-offs of millions of farmers are equal to the loan write off in the case of merely one corporate group viz. LANCO.
No wonder, the wealth of the top ten billionaires in India, has gone up by 2/3rd between 2014 and 2018, while the small man’s wealth and income have declined. In this period, for example, the wealth of the Adani Group has gone up by 250% and that of the Ambani group by 115%, both blue-eyed corporates, with whom the PM is often seen. It is thus being seen that the gains of national growth are going to the truly influential and billionaire class and that too in a legal form, through policymaking in their favour. Such policy favoritism pulls down the rising aspirations of the middle class, as the big ones encroach upon their territory, giving rise to inequality and insecurity.
India is witnessing a crony capitalism of a tight link between political leadership and its core business supporters. Leaders like Mr. Modi clearly maintain close links with their business supporters and are seen to do so. In the present NDA government, a powerful narrative to support the favoured core is visible, but it is apparently at the cost of the others. Narendra Modi is India’s PM and he must be seen with the big and the small alike, but must not be found to favour one, at the cost of the other.