“I must confess that it is a little disappointing to sometimes hear negative comments emanating from our business leadership or be told that government policies are causing slowdown and pessimism in the industrial sector.”
– Manmohan Singh, Dec 22, 2011
“If we have problems, it is for us to solve them. Merely reiterating the distressed condition is not going to help us.”
– Pranab Mukherjee, Dec 23, 2011
In 2009, when Anil Ambani unleashed an ad campaign that suggested the government was helping Reliance Industries, most were shocked by his effrontery. In 2011 when, on successive days, both the Prime Minister and finance minister had to admonish India Inc for going public with its criticism of the government — no specific charges were levied, just a general admonition about policy paralysis — no one was shocked. If anything, the view was the government was being churlish.
It all started off with Deepak Parekh, that doyen of private banking in India, writing a letter to the Prime Minister along with Wipro’s Azim Premji, Mahindra & Mahindra’s Keshub Mahindra and Thermax’s Anu Aga on how the government wasn’t going ahead with policy reforms and that large projects were stuck. Three months later, this was followed up by another letter saying much the same thing. “There are 32 Bills in this Winter session of Parliament for consideration and passing, many of which are of far greater consequence and importance for the country than foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail. The protests on FDI in retail are misconceived and unfortunate, but hope to salvage this situation should not be lost,” the letter had said.
In between all of this, when his hill-city project got in Jairam Ramesh’s crosshairs, Ajit Gulabchand retaliated by filing a case in the Bombay High Court questioning whether the central government had any jurisdiction on his project — Ramesh, of course, got his own back when he got the Maharashtra government to file charges against Lavasa as a precondition to his clearing the second phase of its construction. Others like Anand Mahindra weighed in on the Anna Hazare movement (“The anti-corruption sentiment is