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Time to ponder: Why activists, politicians target Ambani, Adani, 'spare' Tata, Birla

By NS Venkataraman*

The names of Ambani and Adani are being frequently mentioned by critics – especially activists and politicians – in an attempt to paint the two industrialists as exploiters and anti-nationals in the ongoing debate in India with regard to three farm laws enacted by the Modi government. The view is that the farm laws have only benefited the two industrial groups. Even a section of media is highlighting such a view.
Even the Government of India’s privatization measures for public sector undertakings are being interpreted as measures to benefit Ambani and Adani. There is however little discussion about merits or demerits of the government move. Loopholes, even those have little basis, are rarely sought to be identified.
The campaign against the two industrialists is so persistent that the common man, who has little to do with business activities or are not much educated, tends to believe that they are bad guys.
Ironically, these critics have left out other business groups such as Tata, Birla and others. The critics seem to think that the pace of achievements and initiatives in promoting industrial growth in India by Adani and Ambani groups are far greater than that of other groups, hence criticising them would get more attention.
No doubt, the pace of achievement by the Adani and Ambani groups has been faster. This helps critics make people them believe that they are also anti-poor. The two industrialist groups in recent years have set up more industries and economic enterprises than others.
Thanks to their faster growth, they have ably projected their claim of creating direct or indirect jobs for thousands, even as adhering to government rules and environmental regulations.
Indeed, the Ambani group has set up the largest petrochemical complex in India of world size and is now in a position to compete with international giants. It has also diversified into other areas such as communication and retail, thus bringing about a hitherto unknown speed and standard to business.
As for the Adani group, it has set up several renewable energy plants in India, even as involving itself in setting up sea ports. It has set up the largest solar power plant in India in record time. The plant is said to be operating well.
They have helped create the perception that the progress in Indian industrial and economic growth would be markedly less today without their investments and projects.
While other industrial groups as also state-supported enterprises too appear to be striving hard to set up projects, what is conspicuous is, the Ambani and Adani groups have moved into uncharted areas. This has invited sharp criticism from several quarters questioning their closeness with the government. Facts and figure show the spectacular performance of the two groups in a comparatively shorter period of time.
Government’s privatization measures for public sector undertakings are being interpreted as measures to benefit Ambani and Adani
When they go in for such massive projects, there have been problems and failures, too. In the Krishna Godavari gas exploration project, the Reliance Industries belonging to Mukesh Ambani has not been able to produce gas as per expectations. The government has imposed penalty on Reliance, and things are under litigation. Despite this failure, Reliance has joined with the British Petroleum to produce gas from new wells.
The Adani group, entrusted with the task of administering airports, has been under criticism for being favoured. Protagonists of the Adani group argue, however, that the group’s bid was better than that of others, the reason why it has won the contracts.
Meanwhile, efforts by private sector to promote industrialization and economic growth is being decried by activists and leftist politicians. The argument against privatization of public sector has become their trump card. They appear to ignore the view that the government’s job is to govern, not to do business. Even communist China promotes private business.
Entrusting the responsibility for promoting industrial and economic growth to private sector to some extent is not only logical step but also the need of the day for economic growth. No doubt, some private sector companies indulge in tax evasion and malpractices. Corrupt elements have to be punished, whether they are private sector promoters or elsewhere.
The fact is, the critics of Ambani and Adani have failed to come up with an alternative model which could contribute to economic and industrial growth of the country and create jobs. Indeed, loudspeakers cannot be a substitute to likes of Ambani and Adani.
---
Trustee, Nandini Voice for The Deprived, Chennai

Comments

Anonymous said…
Crony capitalists. Some capitalists survive and thrive at the expense of India. One simply needs to start way back to the early 70's and trace the history of one of the industrialists and for the other since the bjp tenure in Gujarat. In addition one can look at changes in laws and laws flouted for both the industrialists. Not that all industrialists do not do such acts - but some more than others.

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