I never say no to invitations except when they are on Sundays. The Sunday is a difficult day for us because the dog sitter is on leave and we have to stay back with Georgie, our pet. But this time, on a Monday, I am saying no to an august group which is meeting to discuss the ease of doing business in India. India is low in the ease of doing business, business is not too well respected in the country, naukri, or a salaried job is. Businessmen, despite their money are considered to be low down in the ladder of social importance while the clerks and the bureaucrats are held in higher esteem. Hence the higher status class oppresses the lower social class by being mean and difficult blocking permissions, creating needless hurdles and showing unnecessary rigidities in the interpretation of rules. The recent being one in which the customs clerks refused to consider the user manual as part of import of machinery and instead charged extra for the manual under the section of import of books. Leh halua !! or is it Hallelujah !
But businesses in India also have things rather easy, they can steal provident fund money of their workers, pay pittance to the skilled innovator, refuse to pay for technology, refuse to pay for drawings and depend far too much on government support by desiring explicit and hidden subsidies. Also, they are poor in technology, oblivious to globalization, have no long term strategy and often fly by night by winding up businesses to park money elsewhere. The ease with which businesses get away with utterly unethical behavior is not funny. Businesses in India are veritable vehicles of money laundering, showing no respect for their trade, not caring for technology and expertise. Business in India is sans self-respect and bereft of any sense of self-worth. What kind of ease of business should we guarantee to the community which has no concern for itself and far less for the larger community?
India is losing its manufacturing base to China; next it will lose to Vietnam, to Bangladesh, to Zambia and Angola, to Peru and Colombia. Besides, it could never rise up to any commendable technology base. While money invested in business has grown, employment has stagnated and even shrunk. It has used borrowed knowledge and borrowed money and from the State desired that its loans be written off, it be allowed to pinch salaries and wages of workers and then retrench them at will, access the police force to steal land from indigenous communities, villages and the people at large. Few countries provide businesses such ease of operations.
Of course bureaucratic hurdles, clerical hurdles must be removed from the path of setting up businesses, but what will the business provide to us in return? Can it guarantee leadership in technology, sustained opportunities for employment? Can it provide an assurance that banks will earn interests and not encounter bad loans? Can it ensure that communities around the industry will develop and not live in abject poverty around the walls of Tata Steel, or the various SAIL plants? Can business assure that with growth in employment, knowledge and profits, it can provide affordable healthcare and education without making these into money spinning scams? If business can do so, then I attend the meeting. If it cannot, then be hell with business. There are many ways of earning money.