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Stability Is The Only Big Concern: Gaurav Dalmia

Gaurav Dalmia, Chairman, Dalmia Group Holdings on politics and policies

Photo Credit : Himanshu Kumar

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On the upcoming general elections
I think it is an important election because the BJP came with a bang last year and set the agenda. It is now a question to see whether they continue to set the agenda. I believe that they will continue to be the hegemon party. And that will have profound implications on India.

In the sense of day to day governance, it may be less important whether BJP wins or some other party because there is not that much divergence in views. But the long-term trajectory of India will certainly be shaped by whether BJP is the central party or not.

On whether the BJP as a hegemon has come to stay
That’s the theory and that will be tested this time. I think it’s a very likely scenario. In qualitative terms, in terms on mind space, it is already the hegemon. But the votes need to prove it.

On corporate India’s concerns in these elections
I think stability is the only big concern — whichever government comes, there should be stability. At the policy level, I don’t think there are any particular concerns, and I think businesses are not reacting to individual announcements.

On whether coalitions can provide stability
Yes, of course. There isn’t any reason to believe that they can’t. It is a matter of nature of the coalition. A coalition of like-minded people is more likely to sustain. A coalition of a smaller number of parties is less likely to sustain. The Economist Intelligence Unit called Italy a “flawed democracy” because of its unstable coalitions. In contract, most of India’s coalitions have been much better.

On jobless growth in India

I believe that jobs are a big area of concern. But it does not have a political cause. The lack of jobs is not directly attributable to politics. It has to be attributed to the nature of our economic growth. Any government is meant to deliver economic growth. Thereafter, based on economic theory as well as empirical evidence, the assumption is that economic growth will lead to jobs. The government is not supposed to provide jobs directly. The economic model that economic growth will provide jobs is kind of broken for now. Given these facts, policymakers should brainstorm, re-evaluate policy initiatives, and see how the links can be built again.

On corporate India-political class interface
We are moving more and more towards free market — this is a trend that started 30 years ago. Look at what happened with mining and spectrum ten years ago. There was evidence of quid pro quo. These were the last remnants of a non-market economy.

In the last decade, more and more of the Indian economy has moved towards free markets.

On the economy’s trajectory
A growth rate of 7.3 per cent is good. India may not be doing the best it can, but it is certainly on course. We could do 50 basis points better.

On Modi versus Manmohan years
During the second tenure of Manmohan Singh’s regime, there was a political vacuum. And Modi has filled it. To that extent, I would say, this has been a better government in terms of performance. From a broader perspective though, they have been similar, because in the end, India is a big ship, and changing direction is a slow process. In five years, you cannot change the arc of history. It’s a marginal plus in the last five years.

On the highs and lows of the Modi regime
I think the high is the bankruptcy code and the low has been the social polarisation.  


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