‘Come one and all, come to India! Ride on and glide along the red carpet I am rolling out for you. Your investment destination is India.’ That was how Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, excited the business urge of foreign capitalists at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Alps mountain resort in Switzerland.
With catchy slogans and characteristic rhetoric, Modi tried to sell India to industrialists and business tycoons outside India. Before the august assembly of some 2500 business leaders, international political bigwigs, economists, and jurists, Modi’s catwalk was near perfect. Gone are the days of the Dutch, French and British enterprises of the pre-independence era. The Sangh Parivar wishes to bury such ugly remembrances of their ‘loot’ and forget the brickbats against them.
It is the turn of the U-turn now. Past is past. Now the Parivar henchman, the country’s Pradhan Sevak, invites them to enter India on a red carpet welcome. India’s mouth-watering resources will be at their disposal. Electricity, water, highways, raw materials, business space, land and all in plenty, only for their asking! We will arrest pollution for their sake. We will keep the Ganga clean, in case they want to take a holy dip! We will shut down our polluting industries to provide space for their manufacturing units. We will tell our Indians not to litter about or loiter around when our foreign friends are in the vicinity.
We shall keep our needs to the minimum. Theirs is the capital. Theirs is the ownership. They have to ‘invest in India, manufacture in India and work in India.’ Hence, it is imperative to make it ‘ easier and attractive to invest in India .’
It is not difficult to understand Modi’s urge to make India shine through foreign capital invested in India. The Bania urge! Business will flourish. Industries will multiply. Production will skyrocket. It is yet another matter if prices too shoot up! Every action has a reaction. It is quite natural. For the time being, write off such projected price rise as an uncomfortable itch! Who cares if the poor man’s purchasing power plummets! Don’t ever mention that India’s one percent population controls 73% of national wealth. ‘ India’s inequality — and especially wealth inequality — is rising, with the rich getting steadily richer and, at the other end, the slowdown in job creation is hurting not just the destitute but even the middle classes.’ ( , We want more billionaires in order to make India shine. What difference it makes if a bunch of foreign billionaires too are added to the Indian variety?
Make in India is the in thing. Make it happen by all means, even if the profit is shipped out by investors. After all, they work for it. The make in India. That is how they contribute to making India shine. Our ‘Vasudhaiva Kudumbakam’ concept has global market value and powerful universal linkage. Hence, all share the world destiny. That is the essence of the ‘dream of a shared future.’
Modi’s ‘style statement’, on behalf of India, sounds tempting for the business world. With his ‘audacity of vision’ he pitches in to capture the imagination of the expectant businessmen who have an eye on India’s resources, including human. Cheap labour and hire and fire facilities. The red carpet symbolizes it all.
One wonders what effect the august audience had when Modi tried to sing into their ears his eloquent ‘shlokas’ about ‘India’s diversity’, about the country’s ‘strength in democracy’, the ‘consensus and unity in politics’, and, above all, the idyllic atmosphere of the ‘Vasudhaiva kudumbakam!’ Even as India was celebrating with brickbats and arson over Padmaavat, Modi was waxing eloquent about India. His attempt to hard-sell India to the globalised world may succeed, given the bend of the business conglomerate. But, if this marriage of convenience will have any green shoot effect on India’s economic and social fabric is a moot question.(Published on 05th February 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 06)