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Amit Shah’s message to Corporate India: Reinvent and stay relevant

LiveMint logoLiveMint 10-09-2017 Gyan Varma

New Delhi: After reaching out to different social communities to help expand the political footprint of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Amit Shah, the party president, is turning his attention to the business community.

Shah engaged the national executive of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), the 90-year-old business lobby over the weekend and exhorted it to reinvent itself in a new economy. “Ficci must rethink the role it has played since independence and play an active role,” he said.

The BJP president then went on to delineate the measures undertaken by the Union government in the last three years to create a more conducive ecosystem for business.

“We are looking to provide a stable policy for 30 years. None of the policy decisions should be evaluated in isolation but should be seen as an integrated long- term scheme of things. Every policy decision of (Narendra) Modi government (has been undertaken) only after evaluating past decisions and its impact in foreseeable future by advanced planning of next steps in that direction,” the BJP president added.

Not only is Shah reiterating the government’s message, he is also seeking to address the politics of the opposition’s message, which is consistently arguing that government’s initiatives have failed to benefit the economy and are in fact leading to joblessness—especially given that a general election is less than 18 months away.

The subtext of Shah’s message was clear: the government has held up its side of the bargain and now it is the turn of Indian industry. His remarks come in the backdrop of continued reluctance on part of Indian industry to bet on fresh investments, something that has impacted capital formation and consequently preyed on the growth potential of the economy.

Defending the government’s decision on demonetization, Shah claimed it will boost the formal economy as it had forced black money back into the system—something, which he argued, could be used to fund the government’s social welfare programmes.

Shah then went on to list out the government’s initiatives, especially the roll out of the goods and services tax (GST).

“The government has changed the way we now look at GDP (gross domestic product), especially the impact of GDP on the lives of 125 crore people. GDP is not only limited to production, services and infrastructure but also it includes improving overall quality of life and social capital. The government is trying to provide 24X7 electricity, building new toilets and providing LPG (cooking gas) connections to the poor as among the initiatives in this direction to improve the lives of people,” Shah added.

While talking about the steps taken by the government to improve the lives of the people, Shah emphasized that 70 million people had benefited from the MUDRA (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency) scheme which provides loans to youth, women and Dalits. He said the scheme was an attempt by the government to make people job creators rather than job seeker.

Political analysts believe that the government has come under pressure because of demonetization, and its effects on the economy and that the Ficci event was part of an outreach programme to try and mitigate this problem.

“The government is facing criticism because of demonetization, so the outreach programme is to listen to the concerns of the people and also convey that the government is taking steps to strengthen the economy. It is an attempt by the Union government and BJP as the ruling party to ensure that concerns of the people are answered,” said A.K. Verma, a Kanpur-based political analyst and political science professor at Christ Church College.

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