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BW Businessworld

Dear Indian CEOs, Nation Needs You!

It's high time that corporate India should grab this occasion to forge a new partnership between the government

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Strains on idea of nation, churnings alongside notion of integrity through medium of race, impropriety towards outsiders, leading to a vision of 'us versus them', with an uncanny conviction that 'my way shpuld prevail with best sense' over the other. As the forces of such turburbulence March across several parts of world- what is similar in this development on a comparative note that world seems in uneasy times where the past is being questioned, present is shaky & future is moving towards uncertain contempt of the 'other'.

Collective voices act as a check on individual whims and give hope if democracy degenerate towards actions that suppress individuals. From chief executive of General Motors, Mary T. Barra, giving clarion call for tolerance, inclusion and diversity, to likes of Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan asserting that equality is nation’s bedrock principle. Global player like Nike looked at Climate change as a serious global threat & pondered over ways for low-carbon growth economy. Such mediation gives space to collectivist ethos over chaos where the world is within transformation.

Apple chief Tim Cook pointed to US President Donald Trump as a reaction to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville that hate is synonymn with cancer. Will corporate in India take a leaf from this page too and assert that whatever be the range and colour of our political views, we must not let equality take a backseat or justice be hampered, if there are cases of mob lynchings anywhere.

Corporates in India have joined hands with the Government in the past on a wide spectrum of issues, from providing education to even rejuvenation of lakes. As the government is trying to give impetus to skills & entrepreneurial spirit, Reframing corporate governance yardstick shall be like harnessing of our soft power also.

After several years of bashing by the proteges of Marx & sympathisers of Left of big businesses as greedy and evil, even the former agents now perceive the corporate world as force of morality to reckon with. Agreed it may be more about money over the morality as Racism and Nazism do not sound in good taste for generation of profit in contemporary scenario. However one cannot dismiss the fact that from Climate change to morality now - seems corporate America is ready to take cudgels with administration. It is revamping its role from seeker of profits to an engine of progress and morality. Will Corporate India follow Corporate America?

Throughout history of political state, it has merited the attention of trade & commerce. To ideas of industrial democracy or Suchamcher's notion of 'small is beautiful', there has been an acceptance of business & corporations as significant organ of change. Also what's effects governments is also bound to impact the enterprises too.

The perplexing issue of 'what is good life' always has heterogeneous answer looking at varied corporate operative procedures. Vice versa this complexity of moral corporate life applied to government exercise as well. Focusing on virtues and larger problem of evil gives primacy to the idea that moral objectives can be attained by social co-operation. At the same time, consequentist nature of business ethics may not let it be easy. The realisation that impersonal markets in struggle for power does not seem to be a holistic package against the fears of a development paradigm which is valueless.

Power merits accountability. Business creed by engaging in this milieu try to salvage the enterprise by reducing it secondary to market. By normative intervention, real social control of power in unearthed in an innovative way.

People may have own opinion about issues but scant attention has been paid to systematic attention by corporates towards government functioning, other than looking at tabulation and deliberation of mathematical figures in budgets. As society is more myriad and questions are urgent, corporate morality is changing from market share & sponsoring non-state activities to providing more critical policy insight on government working.

British scholar Oliver Sheldon opined that morality is part of corporate social responsibility. This morality plays a productive role in business operations and adds a tenor of spiritual base. This accounts for 'real face of economy' as the latter does not operate without people.

When interpersonal interest relationship within the fabric of society was being thwarted or undermined, voices of dissent from corporate are an instance too of productive labour. Distribution and exchange are the first thing to be disturbed when business surroundings are marred by chaos & confirmism. Therefore it is not only about fetching high praise for morally condemning but going an extra mile to keep environment conducive for their work.

Fear of customer boycott in the drill to support or oppose administration is a vexing issue and may at times become litmus test of nationalism. Such vigilantism need not be seen as a wall of schism between authorities and business leadership, but a recognition of the fact that rules of politics undergo change. New context demands renewed ways of engagement.

White backlash developing in America or ongoing nationalist debate in India where fights over narratives of history are rampant. The tenor of script may be parallel but solutions may be learnt from each other.

The pledge of 'New India’ by 2022 ironically comes at a time when communal violence, mob-lynchings, cow-vigilantism, issues of employment, long problems of strife-torn Kashmir, terrorism, naxalism amongst others are pervasive. Prime Minister Narendre Modi did recently meet many young entrepreneurs at a program organised by Niti Ayog, hailing them as champions of change.

It's high time that corporate India should grab this occasion to forge a new partnership between the government. That corporate donations which have made electoral drill as most unethical exercise to grab power as recently pointed by the Election Commission, the business fora must seize this moment to take a stand against of not only politics of hate but of corruption as well. After all, public morality need not be patented to government alone.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Amna Mirza

The author is an alumini of DPS Mathura Road, St.Stephens College (Bachelors Degree), Hindu College (Masters Degree), M.Phil & PhD from University of Delhi where she is currently Assistant Professor of Political Studies. An avid traveller, voracious reader, her academic initiatives took her to University of Duisburg Essen (Germany), University of Fribourg (Switzerland) amongst others. She is recipient of 'Godfray Philips Golden Ovary Award', St.Stephens College Centenary Medal for 'character combined with learning', amongst others. She has three books to her credit which were well received by academic and others alike.

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