Division of Labor
The “fake”qualifies the “speech” and not the PM, I hasten to add lest there be any misunderstanding. You must have come across the much celebrated speech that appointed Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh gave the other day at a CII conference. I read it with rising disappointment and dismay. Smeared with high-sounding socialistic rhetoric, the message was clear: take care of the mess or else dire consequences will follow. Never mind that the mess was not the creation of the Indian industries, that it is not their responsibility, and most importantly that they are not equipped to clean up the mess.
It appeared that the PM’s speech writers are ill-educated socialists. You can’t get good speech writers for the money the government is willing to pay, I suppose. (Even the PM is paid Rs 30K a month.) Now if they had hired me to write the PM’s speeches, that would be a different matter. But then, I suppose they can’t afford me. So as a public service, I present in five easy-to-read parts the speech as I would have written it. This is the fake speech.
Dear Members of the Confederation of Indian Industries:
I am very honored to be invited to share my thoughts with you on the subject of “Inclusive Growth – the Challenges for Corporate India.” I appreciate deeply the critically important role that Indian corporations play in the present – and will continue to play – in the economic growth and development of India. For that, you have my gratitude; not just mine but the gratitude of the people of a nation that is on the move.
You, more than any other group, certainly understand the source of all wealth – production. And what is more, you know how to create wealth. Wealth does not drop like gentle rain from heaven; it does not come as a gift from some government agency; it does not spontaneously arise from some softly spoken magic spell; it does not materialize out of the vain electoral promises of some demagogue; it does not flow unbidden from the earth like some volcanic eruption. No, you know as well as anyone does that it requires hard work, entrepreneurship, risk taking, imagination, skill, investment, and vision to create wealth.
Production – that is, the creation of wealth – matters because ultimately that is what gets distributed as income to the people. If production were inadequate for whatever reason, even equitable distribution of that production would not eliminate poverty. The problem of a fair distribution of wealth is a much more tractable problem than the production of wealth. Society rightly burdens you – the corporations of the economy – with the task of producing wealth, and relieves you of the burden of correcting for any unfair distribution and assigns that task to the government. It is an understandable division of labor. Corporations have a comparative advantage in creating wealth. If any redistribution is necessitated, then it is the job of the government to do so.
You – the private sector – have to do what the government cannot do. The government does not create wealth; you do. In every sphere, wherever you have been allowed to go ahead with your job – producing wealth – you have surpassed all expectations. Decades of government involvement in attempted production of wealth had resulted in diminished expectations from India and Indians. You have demonstrated that if given the chance, India and Indians are second to none.
Consider for a moment those things that India is known globally for in the world of excellence and achievement. Every sphere in which India competes and comes out among the leaders has been the result of private enterprise, whether it is in IT and ITES, or in manufacturing. What about the government and political leadership? While the captains of our industries – the Tatas, Birlas, Kalyanis, Mallyas, Ambanis, and others – compare very favorably globally, our political leadership is infamous for being a haven for criminals. The percentage of criminals among the politicians is an order of magnitude greater than that in the general population. That is a fact that we have to keep in mind when we talk about governance of this great nation.
Ladies and gentlemen of the CII, in my talk here I will remind you of your responsibility and your duty, of course. But I will also take this opportunity to remind us of what the government’s responsibility is. I further assert that the industry and the government have distinct and important roles, and that separation of industry and government must be maintained if we have to have growth.
[Continued in Part Duh — Governance.]