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BW Businessworld

For The People, Too

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Despite being an anthology of articles written over years, Arun Maira's Transforming Capitalism is sheer brilliance. It is straight from the heart, and tells us that the capitalist growth model must have a human face to be meaningful. Maira, a member of the Planning Commission, demolishes several excuses for the existing inequality in the model of economic Darwinism. He questions nine myths. Here are some of them. We cannot grow the pie and wait for the trickle down effects to take place, saya Maira. The poor have to be taken along in the growth process. Also, saying the poor should try harder is a feeble statement given that initial conditions are different for them. And we cannot leave it to the private sector to address inequality.

The business of business cannot be only business, says Maira, as there are repercussions to be faced. We see this today in terms of hostility to private sector expansion. The approach of ‘just do it' cannot be viewed in isolation and we need to take society with us. Finally, it cannot be just the left or right view, or being or not being with a principle, it has to be somewhere in between.

The capitalist has to think of the other party as a citizen and not just a consumer. We need to think of this citizen as not just having access to the product, but also owning it. This is really a cogent way of putting it. And that take is one of the reasons for saying this book should be read by every CEO. Even if 10 per cent of them act on Maira's lines, our society will be better off.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 20-02-2012)