Big Business hopes You voted for Modi!

Big Business hopes You voted for Modi!

This isn’t a rant about the undeniable fact that the Indian media landscape is dominated by a few powerful conglomerates, many of which have notable connections to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But let’s get that out of the way first.

Reliance Industries Limited has a significant presence in Indian media through its subsidiary, Network18. This includes popular channels like CNN-News18, CNBC-TV18, and entertainment channels under the Viacom18 banner. Mukesh Ambani’s proximity to the BJP is well-documented, with the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi often seen as business-friendly and supportive of Ambani’s ventures.

We hope you voted!

The Times Group, owned by the Sahu Jain family, is one of India’s largest media conglomerates. It owns prominent newspapers like The Times of India and The Economic Times, and television channels under the Times Now brand. The Times Group has been criticized for a perceived pro-BJP bias, especially during election cycles. Their editorial stance often aligns with the BJP’s narrative, although they maintain that their coverage is independent.

Founded by Subhash Chandra, the Essel Group owns Zee Media, which runs news channels like Zee News and WION. Subhash Chandra himself was elected to the Rajya Sabha with BJP support. Zee News has been a vocal supporter of the Modi government, which has led to accusations of biased reporting.

And of course, if you are an intelligent reader, you know about the hostile take over of NDTV by Gautam Adani.

So, it’s as plain as the nose on your face that all these chaps fervently want Modi and Co. in the cockpit of the virtual bullet train that is the nation of Bharat. But they aren’t alone, others want you to help the BJP hang on for a third term.

The Temple Tableau

The grand spectacle of the Ayodhya temple inauguration in January this year was a telling tableau of India’s corporate elite, gathered like dutiful disciples before their political deity. From the Reliance Group’s Mukesh Ambani to steel tycoon Lakshmi N. Mittal, the who’s who of India Inc. made a pilgrimage to Ayodhya, their presence underscoring a confluence of faith and finance that has never been more transparent.

Telecom czar Sunil Bharti Mittal declared himself “blessed” to witness the event, a sentiment echoed by Aditya Birla Group’s Kumar Mangalam Birla, who exhorted not just India but the entire world to celebrate this momentous occasion. It was a sight that encapsulated the symbiotic relationship between big business and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Anand Mahindra, ever the eloquent spokesperson for Indian capitalism, took to social media to expound on how the inauguration embodied ideals of good governance that the world should aspire to. In one stroke, he swept aside any dissenting views about the temple’s controversial history or the secular foundations of the Indian Constitution.

The message was clear: in the new India, the path to a prosperous future runs through the public acceptance of Modi’s Majoritarian Mantra.

SEE ALSO  Viganò Excommunication: Painful, but Necessary

But what happens if the BJP, the current political patron of these corporate titans, is ousted? The business class in India, which has enjoyed an unprecedented run of influence and favor under Narendra Modi’s regime, faces a potential orphanhood that is as political as it is economic.

The Bonds That Bind

The business community’s cozy relationship with the BJP is not merely ceremonial. The introduction of electoral bonds—a mechanism allowing anonymous donations to political parties—has solidified this alliance. Top contributors, spanning industries from gaming to mining, have utilized these bonds to channel funds to the BJP, often coinciding with regulatory and policy favors. The opacity of these transactions has drawn criticism and calls for transparency, yet the practice persists, underscoring a quid pro quo that benefits both the political and corporate elite.

It’s not just the electoral bonds.

In a remarkable demonstration of corporate benevolence and civic duty, the Prudent Electoral Trust has emerged as the epitome of selfless giving.

Since its inception in 2013, Prudent has raised an awe-inspiring $272 million, generously directing roughly 75% of this princely sum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This noble act of charity is not merely a drop in the ocean; it is a deluge of support, as evidenced by the trust’s donations to the BJP totaling ten times the measly $20.6 million given to the impoverished Opposition Congress. Truly, a testament to fair play and equal opportunity in democratic funding!

The Altruistic Entities

One might wonder who these magnanimous benefactors are. Fear not, for Reuters has done the legwork. Eight of India’s largest business groups have collectively donated at least $50 million to Prudent between 2019 and 2023. These funds, in a stroke of sheer serendipity, were subsequently transformed into cheques for the BJP. Coincidence? Clearly, just an act of pure serendipity!

The BJP’s appeal to business leaders lies in its promise of stability and strong governance. However, this perceived stability is a mirage. As renowned journalist Martin Wolf points out, research indicates that democracies tend to outperform autocracies in long-term economic growth. Democracies foster economic reforms, enhance fiscal capacity, and improve education and healthcare, all of which contribute to higher GDP growth.

India’s own economic performance under Modi, with a GDP growth rate plummeting to 3.9% in 2019, contradicts the narrative that strongman politics leads to economic prosperity.

The Elite’s Embrace of Inequality

Why, then, do India’s business leaders cling so tightly to the BJP? The answer lies in the clear benefits they have reaped. Inequality in India has surged, with the top 1% holding more wealth than ever before.

This concentration of wealth has created a business environment where a handful of conglomerates, notably the Reliance, Tata, Aditya Birla, Adani, and Bharti Airtel groups, dominate the market. This oligopoly has led to higher prices and reduced competition, as highlighted by former RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya.

The expansion of these business giants has been facilitated by a supportive policy environment, often at the expense of environmental and social considerations.

SEE ALSO  Just wait! Today: Arundhati Roy. Tomorrow: You?

Between 2018 and 2022, clearances for projects in protected areas increased twentyfold, signaling a government willing to bend the rules for its favored few. This has allowed the top business groups to expand their empires, while smaller competitors struggle to survive.

The Satirical Spectacle

The irony is palpable. India’s business leaders, who thrive on the principles of free market and competition, find themselves in a paradoxical embrace with a regime that undermines these very principles.

Their public endorsements of the BJP, whether through temple inaugurations or social media proclamations, are less about religious fervor and more about securing their business interests.

As the Enforcement Directorate and other regulatory bodies wield their power to intimidate and control, the business elite are reminded of the high stakes. Staying in the good graces of the ruling party is not just beneficial—it’s essential for survival. This dynamic has turned India’s corporate landscape into a ‘big boys club,’ where influence and power are concentrated in the hands of a few.

A Future Uncertain

If the BJP were to lose power, India’s business leaders would face an uncertain future. The protective bubble provided by the current regime could burst, exposing them to the vagaries of a less predictable political environment. The fear of losing their privileged position explains their fervent support for the BJP, even when it contradicts the principles of a fair and open market.

In his dystopian novel “1984,” George Orwell wrote, “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process continues day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

For India Inc., they’re depending on you. This endless present is a comfortable reality, as long as the BJP remains in power. And it’s up to you, the poor disillusioned middle class voter, to keep them in their utopian comfort zone!

But history has a way of asserting itself. As India approaches the final voting phase, the business community’s allegiance to the BJP will be tested. Will they continue to prioritize short-term gains over the long-term health of the economy and democracy? Or will they find themselves orphaned, searching for a new patron in a post-BJP era?

The answer is wrapped around your voting finger.

FRANK KRISHNER IS A MEDIA PRACTITIONER, FREELANCE JOURNALIST AND TRAINER.

2 Responses to "Big Business hopes You voted for Modi!"

  1. Shirin Dominic   May 31, 2024 at 8:49 am

    Loved the last line ‘The answer os wrapped around your voting finger.’

  2. chacko   May 30, 2024 at 7:20 pm

    No, I have not voted for looters!