Crony Capitalism and Narendra Modi’s Friends in Business

By Sushil Kutty

Sri Lanka has a social network. And these days Modi is all the rage. For Sri Lankans, the Indian bigwigs trending on their social media are a welcome diversion from the island nation’s woes. At least Modi is not Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the president of Sri Lanka who is still at the center of the storm after the resignation of his prime minister brother. The island nation is still in turmoil and people remember India helping its neighbor in times of crisis with petroleum products and funds.

But Gotabaya did not leave. Some of the fires he stoked have yet to cool. And Sri Lanka’s social media is “abuzz” with Modi and Adani trending with Gotabaya thrown in for “local flavor”. Just like Indian social media can’t get past Rahul Gandhi and law enforcement leadership with Delhi police for good measure.

The Adani in ‘Stop Adani’ is Gautam Adani whose Fortune brand is renowned for cooking oil and more. Today, in addition to being a billionaire, Adani is also presented, rightly or wrongly, as a “friend” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which should have sounded good, but it is not because at the instead of “friend”, the word used is “buddy”. which, although synonymous with “buddy” and “friend”, also has a negative connotation.

Oxford, Cambridge and Merriam Webster will corroborate that what is even less honorable is when ‘cronyism’ is bludgeoned with ‘capitalism’. The reason Modi-Adani is trending on Sri Lankan social media is that allegations have been made that the ‘Adani Group’ was awarded a wind power project in Sri Lanka because the Prime Minister Narendra Modi lobbied Gotabaya.

‘Ravana’ allegedly told Modi to hike, Gotabaya Rajapaksa succumbed. That’s the difference. And Sri Lankans don’t like that. They were planning a “massive protest” against Gotabaya’s spineless fall. And Colombo was flooded with posters shouting “Stop Adani”. Thursday, June 16, Sri Lankans were to gather “in front of Majestic City” to register their protest with Adani and Modi taking advantage of Colombo.

So it looked like a case of the pot calling the kettle black when ‘Modi’s ED’ grilled Rahul Gandhi and the BJP called Congress corrupt. This is where the “buddy” comes in. According to the Cambridge dictionary, “pal is a close friend or companion, e.g., someone who may not be honest”; as in “I would like to see the president and his acolytes driven out of office”.

And what does “crony capitalism” mean? The answer is “success in business depends on close relations between businessmen and government officials”. The allegation accusing Modi-Adani on Sri Lanka’s social media is that it is a “crony capitalism” relationship, and therefore “Stop Adani” was all the rage. A classic case of crony capitalism is when the powerful figure in government intervenes for the benefit of cronyism.

Is “crony capitalism” corruption? The answer to this is that any transaction based on incentives for either or both parties to the transaction is one level or another level of corruption. Of course, the government of each country is pushing for profitable transactions in other countries on behalf of their industries. But few heads of state are getting so involved that it’s starting to trend on another country’s social media.

In this case, Sri Lanka. And the BJP and its cohorts cannot complain that the citizens of Sri Lanka have a visceral hatred for Modi and his Hindutva politics, as it can get away with denying the opposition’s allegations against Modi. Sri Lankans are questioning their own leadership. They don’t care what happens to Modi in India, or if he gets bad press internationally.

Crony capitalism is a form of capitalism that flies to a level where it does not capture the imagination of ordinary people. But “limiting competition” by using a powerful person in government is classic crony capitalism, similar to influencing a foreign government to award a wind energy project to a favored domestic company.

By the way, there is an international index of crony capitalism. Russia tops the index. India ranks 9th and China 11th. The United States ranked 16th and Germany 22nd. Sri Lanka is nowhere on the list. The unsavory reality is that crony capitalism donates huge sums of money to political parties.

Let’s also not forget that India’s billionaires have caused a stir in the world over the past eight years, and “we the people” wallowed in pride as the Indian tycoons beat Chinese Jack Ma to second and third place in the Forbes list of billionaires. Crazy, but that’s how it is. At least Sri Lankan social media tends to “Stop Adani”. That said, the Adani Group dismissed all allegations against it, saying it was “disappointing”. (API Service)

The post Crony Capitalism And Narendra Modi’s Friends In Business World first appeared on IPA Newspack.

Leave a Comment