straight talk

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Dec 2017 11:59:14

THE straight talk done by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi at the 90th Annual General Meeting of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) must open the eyes of Indian corporates who have taken resort to political patronage to secure rather inexplicably huge loans for their enterprises. Mr. Modi was frank enough to assert that bad loans -- in banking terms ‘non performing assets (NPAs) -- formed the biggest ever scandal in the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime of ten years when political pressure was brought to bear on the banks to grant technically unsupportable loans to select corporates. Eventually, the number of such corporates grew to phenomenal and scandalous levels and paled into insignificance other scams like the 2G Spectrum scandal, the coal scandal, the Commonwealth Games scandal. This frank talk must have seen many an industrialist present at the FICCI meet obviously red-faced. 

That the Prime Minister talked of the scandalous proportions of the NPAs taking place with political collusion, was welcome. For, the manner in which the national economy was made bereft of money through the NPA scandal was something unheard of in India since Independence. It was unfortunate that the people in the Government did not mind joining hands with some uncouth sections of industry to secure loans of mind-boggling sizes. There was no sense of morality as the loans were given left, right and centre to undeserving parties, most of which just did not pay back the money taken.

It was good that the Prime Minister raised the issue at FICCI AGM so as to let the India Inc know his mind on an issue of critical importance. It requires courage to raise the issue at such a forum. Yet, with ultimate national good in mind, Mr. Modi chose to raise the issue and caution the corporates not to indulge in such matters ever after.

The collusion between politicians and industry had reached truly uncouth levels during the UPA regime, as the whole world saw that happen. The corporates got involved in not just NPA or 2G Spectrum or Coal Block allocation scandals but also indulged in undesirable attempts to influence political decisions about who should be included in the Council of Ministers or who should be dropped. Materials like the Neera Radia tapes showed the ugly underbelly of the political machine was made to operate to suit the conveniences of a chosen few corporates. Evidence made the people believe that even journalists with fairly high standing were involved in those undesirable activities. The whole thing was so obnoxious, to say the least, that the entire nation felt sorry for itself.

With these ugly realities in the background, the Prime Minister did a straight talk that must have shocked the corporates present at the FICCI meet. They might not have expected the Prime Minister to do such a straight and hard talk. However, in the larger national interest, such an approach was more than necessary. Mr. Modi did a good job by issuing a word of caution to India Inc against any such attempts in the future.

A similar word of caution is also necessary for political class as well so that it does not indulge in uncouth activities. As he heads the Government, Mr. Modi needs to put political class, too, on a tight leash so that no corruption takes place to plunder the national economy any further. At this juncture, our country needs a strict and high moral code to conduct its public affairs. Because such a code did not exist earlier, the nation suffered and the world came to mock India as a country afflicted by policy paralysis. Such an eventuality must not hit India now onwards.