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Declare December 10 as Free Enterprise Day: Rajaji was champion of free enterprise

By NSVenkataraman* 

An appeal to the Prime Minister to honour Rajaji on his forthcoming birth anniversary on 10th December: 
In the month of December, it is time to remember Sri. C. Rajagopalachari ( Rajaji) , who was born on 10 December 1878 and passed away on 25 December, 1972.
Rajaji, the first Governor General of independent India, was hailed by Mahatma Gandhi as his conscience keeper. Rajaji was an intellectual par excellence and, could think far ahead of his time and was an unbending fighter for the cause dear to his heart. He wrote and spoke with high level of depth, clarity and understanding on multiple Indian and international subjects including politics, economics, nuclear disarmament, religion, social welfare and so on.
Rajaji’s public life can be divided into two parts, with one part before India’s independence in 1947 and the other part after the year 1947.

Pre independent period

During the pre independent days, there were several stalwarts in Indian public life, such as Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Rajaji and others, who sacrificed their personal interests for national cause and worked under the leadership pf Mahatma Gandhi to achieve India’s independence.
Rajaji led the salt satyagraha movement in Tamil Nadu, when Mahatma Gandhi launched Dandi march in Gujarat, defying the British authority, Thus, Rajaji proved that the spirit of salt satyagraha movement was not confined to one region but was prevalent all over India. 

Post independent period

During the pre independent days, while Rajaji was one of the many stalwarts in India, Rajaji’s role in Indian public life in the post independent days was even more significant, since many stalwarts of pre independent days either passed away or withdrew from active political field.

Nehru’s faith in democratic socialism

When Jawaharlal Nehru who was praised as jewel of India and was a close associate of Rajaji became the first Prime Minister of independent India and staying on as Prime Minister for several years. Jawaharlal Nehru initiated many reform measures and development projects with great faith and national good at heart.
Nehru’s approach of democratic socialism was largely reflection of the methods of communist countries like the erstwhile Soviet Union, where government investment in industrial, infrastructure and other projects were given importance and priority and the policies were restrictive as far as private sector were concerned. Public sector projects were given much more thrust than private sector and therefore, the potentials of the private sector projects were ignored or even suppressed to some extent.
Such policies towards large government initiatives was viewed by Jawaharlal Nehru as the be all and end all of strategy to promote egalitarian society and lift the economic conditions of those in the lower income group, thus "eliminating the feasibility of large profits of private sector going under the control of a few capitalists”.
At the same time, it should be said to the credit of Jawaharlal Nehru that he did not adopt the model of erstwhile Soviet Union, of denying liberty and freedom to the people.

Rajaji’s objection

Rajaji objected to several such initiatives of Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajaji did that with courage of conviction, even as he held Nehru in high esteem.Rajaji felt that Nehru’s approach to certain economic and development issues in India were not appropriate.
Rajaji vigorously opposed Nehru’s policy of what Nehru described as democratic socialism, which Nehru thought could be a via media between communist philosophy and democratic spirit, combining the best of both.
Rajaji was of the view that the government should be concerned about promoting industrial and infrastructure ventures with faith on the capability and initiatives of private sector and motivating the private project promoters. Rajaji described the restrictive private sector policy of Jawaharlal Nehru as “permit, licence, quota raj".
Rajaji recognised that public sector was too needed for investment in certain areas but the focus must be more on private sector. Rajaji eloquently said “ that the government is to govern and not to do business”.
Rajaji fundamentally disagreed with Nehru in that whereas Nehru thought that investment in large public sector investments would provide better distribution of wealth and opportunities, Rajaji said that natural desire of people to prosper individually should be recognised and the policies must be implemented in tune with the natural aspirations of people to earn wealth and improve their material affluence.

Champion of free enterprise

In the early 1990s and subsequent years., the policy and reform programmes of the government led by late P.V.Narasimha Rao was largely based on incentivising the private promoters, which reflects Rajaji’s economic philosophy.
Obviously, in the independent India, Rajaji deserves the credit as champion of free enterprise.
The recent Government’ of India's Start Up India programme is fundamentally reflecting on Rajaji’s clarion call for free enterprise movement in the country, which of late have stood the test of time.

Rajaji’s birthday as Start Up day

In such circumstances, it is appropriate that Rajaji’s birthday on 10th December should be declared as the Start Up Day for Entrepreneurs, just as Sardar Vallabhai Patel’s birthday as National Unity day. Jawaharlal Nehru’s birthday as Children’s day and Dr. Radhakrishnan’s birthday as Teachers’ day.
---
Trustee, Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai. 

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