South Asia Conclave
The session was based on the book "Business and Politics in India" | Manisha Mondal/
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Panellists at South Asia Conclave say there is a need to move beyond binaries to look at policies as simply pro or anti-business.

New Delhi: Indian business is deeply disillusioned today with the Narendra Modi government, said news daily Business Standard’s chairman T.N. Ninan Wednesday at the concluding session of the South Asia Conclave 2018.

The conclave, organised by the Oxford University Press and in its second edition this year, seeks to offer a platform where issues related to South Asia, one of the world’s fastest-growing regions, are discussed and debated.

The session, moderated by ThePrint chairman Shekhar Gupta, was based on the book Business and Politics in India, co-edited by Christophe Jaffrelot, Atul Kohli and Kanta Murali. Featuring a discussion on how Indian politics has evolved its attitude towards business over the years and where it stands today, the panel included Ninan and Carleton University professor Vivek Dehejia. Murali, a co-editor on the book, was present too.

“There are other elites apart from the business elites such as the agricultural forces, the middle class, professional elites and more. These people have a greater hold on the system than business has even today,” said Ninan.

He also stressed on the need to move beyond the binaries of looking at policies as simply pro-business or anti-business.

Adding to the argument, Dehejia said the book buys too much into the rhetoric of Modi’s promises before the election. “I don’t know many businessmen who are happy with demonetisation and GST (goods and services tax). When you probe, there isn’t really much substance, rather rhetoric,” he said about the on-ground reality.

“I don’t think this government’s economic policy shows continuity. Modi’s style is I don’t owe anyone anything. This government is the most anti-business government since 1991, this is how the Indian businessman sees it,” said Gupta.

Ninan agreed and said, “Businesses feel very vulnerable in India today, therefore they don’t want to speak up.”

The session ended with the experts saying the secondary mediums of media have an important role to play and business policies in Indian context need to be looked at in a contemporary framework.

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