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Historicising the Values and Practices of Bharatiya Business-class

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Bharat business is carried out with a spirit of Yogi. It can be seen in the smallest of a shopkeeper to a pushcart vendor. When one makes a purchase, say of 1 Kg rice, the shopkeeper will add a little extra of rice, after balancing the weighing scale. The thought behind this action is that, even though the weighing scale looks balance, there still might be some mistake and let me add little etc. It is a practice one will find in Bharat and across Bharat. The shopkeeper may not be able to explain why he does it, but he has seen his forefathers do it, and he continues to do so.

Now for a moment recall your bill for a shopping mall. One is billed up to three digits after the decimal. Even the Bharateeya jeweller charges only up to two places after the decimal. This ‘yogi’ like behaviour is reflected in the big businessmen also.

Business Principles
People in business from Bharat never worked on the principle of capturing the entire market share alone, but always believed in expanding the market along with fellow businessmen. M.P. Thomas of Bird, singled out G.D. Birla, as the villain of the piece: ‘He has done more to encourage new mills than anyone. If he can’t get us out by kicking us out, he will try to get us out by unfair competition.’ (by introducing more Bharteeya people in business) (Industrialisation in India, 1850-1947)

Not surprising, that there is no word for “blackmail” in any Bharteeya language. In Bharat, from the ancient time, a businessman was called Shrestha, i.e. “The Best”. Then both Muslims and British entered Bharat in the pretext of business and went on to capture not only parts of Bharat but also savage the soul of Bharat. It created a negative image about the businessmen in Bharat.

After Independence, Jawaharlal Nehru’s policies hounded people in the business. Following conversation indicates the same. “The Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, while lunching with an old friend at Teen Murti, denounced ‘profit’ in a knee-jerk reaction. J R D Tata, India’s leading industrialist, had gently reminded Nehru that the public sector was also expected to make a profit. Nehru replied: ‘Jeh, profit is a dirty word. Let’s not spoil our lunch talking about it’.”

These views of first Prime Minister killed not only Bharteeya business but also people in the business. Following is an example of the same.

After 1947, all of Sindh went to Pakistan, Bhai Pratap Dialdas (April 14,1908 – August 30, 1967) formed the Sindhu Resettlement Corporation on 15,000 acres of land donated by the Maharao of Kutch. In a record three years, he had set up the coastal tri-city of Adipur- Gandhidham-Kandla and blueprinted the port of Kandla to compensate for the loss of Karachi.

He was a stalwart of the Indian freedom movement, funding the Indian National Congress, conducting seditious activities against the British crown from the basement of his home and hosting Mohandas Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and others when they visited Hyderabad, Sindh. When it came to philanthropy, Bhai Pratap was nothing less than a spendthrift.

Then Bhai Pratap was arrested on the charge of misuse of imported goods; it appeared to be on a minor technicality. However, the case, first filed in 1960, dragged on. It was 1965 by the time he received his reprieve. Five years in prison had taken their toll, and his health was failing. Towards the end of his internment, he had been admitted to St. George’s Hospital, one of Bombay’s municipal hospitals, but even only there his family was only allowed to visit once every two weeks. Bhai Pratap died in London on August 30, 1967. He was 59 years old.

Fall under Nehruvian Consensus
The hatred for people in business by Nehru stands out when one compares the treatment meted out to Bhaai Pratap as compared to TT Krishnamachari. He was forced to resign from the post of Finance Minister on 18 February 1958 after the Mundhra scandal broke out wherein his complicit involvement was discovered. He was re-elected in 1962, and Jawaharlal Nehru had offered him any cabinet position except that of the Finance ministry but was rehabilitated in 1962 as a cabinet minister without a post and again as the Finance Minister, a position that he held until 1966. TT Krishnamachari was a businessman also and founded the TTK Group, but his being a Congress politician not only saved him but got him the post of Finance Minister, again.

Many people in business lost their life due to the policies of the then government. Another businessman, freedom fighter, a philanthropist who suffered and died due to government policies was Dan Singh Bisht (1906 – 10 September 1964). He had to sell the plant he had set up at a discount, sensing no solution, as the Government had refused his machinery to leave Calcutta Port despite having first authorised Dan Singh Bist to take a hefty loan to procure the same.

Nehru’s approach was very different when it came to multinationals. Nehru facilitated IBM’s entry into India in 1951. It had 80% market share in India and had control over products to be marketed to India, i.e. It controlled the development of the computing industry. IBM would bring old machines to India and refurbish them, then lease them to the government at inflated rates.

Vikram Sarabhai, who headed the government Electronics Committee, intervened. IBM defended its practice, stating that it was trying to meet the nation’s policy of gradual growth. Finally under the non-Congress regime, as per FERA guidelines, IBM had to reduce its equity ownership to 26%, which the company did not accept. As it did not comply with FERA, IBM was asked to exit India in 1977. (Multinational Enterprises in India)

Things were no different under Indira Gandhi. Viren J. Shah (12 May 1926 – 9 March 2013) another Gandhian businessman and a friend of Indira Gandhi was arrested when he opposed emergency. Viren Shah was arrested under The Maintenance of Internal Security Act, 1971 and clamped in Arthur Road Jail, Bombay for six months before he was moved to Tihar Jail, Delhi where he remained for another three months. His son Rajesh Shah received a message from an intermediary, a retired civil servant, who was the all-powerful Congress boss in Bombay advising that Viren Shah should become an approver and if he did, everything would be forgiven. Perhaps he could have won a few precious licenses for his company, too, that way! The advice was rejected instantly, without hesitation by Rajesh Shah who did not feel the need even to consult his father.

License Raj created under Nehru – Indira gave birth to the institutionalised corruption, and people in business were blamed for all this. By the end of the 20th century, the image of people in business from Shresthi was converted into an image of Asura, by the politicians.

In spite of all these, Bharteeya businessman has always stood for Bharat. He has gone on to serve the motherland in all possible ways.

After Pokhran II, i.e. test of the nuclear bomb in May 1998, US firms were banned from exporting anything to 200 Indian organisations which included both government and private entities. The list named private organisations like Kirloskar Brothers, Godrej & Boyce, Larsen & Toubro, Walchand-Nagar Industries etc. None of the organisations regretted their decisions to stand with motherland’s security though they suffered huge financial losses. One can recount many such instances.

Bharateeya people in business have been a class apart from the businessmen across the world and have contributed in different ways and different walks of life from time immemorial. He is honest and ethical, something for which international community has vouched for, from time immemorial.

– Sandeep Singh

Source: Organiser

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