India ranking at number 9 on international crony capitalism index comes as no surprise

Is “crony capitalism” corruption? The answer to that is any transaction that is based on incentives to one or both the parties of the transaction is at some level corruption

India ranking at number 9 on international crony capitalism index comes as no surprise

Sushil Kutty

Sri Lanka has a social media. And these days Modi is trending. For Sri Lankans, Indian bigwigs trending in their social media is a welcome diversion from the island nation’s woes. At least Modi is not Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s President, who is still at the centre of storm after the resignation of his brother as Prime Minister. The island nation is still in turmoil and people have remembered India which helped its neighbour in times of crisis with fuel products and funds.

But Gotabaya hasn’t gone away. Some of the fires he fanned haven’t cooled yet. And Sri Lanka’s social media is “abuzz” with Modi and Adani trending with Gotabaya thrown in for “local flavour”.

The Adani in ‘Stop Adani’ is Gautam Adani whose Fortune brand is recognized for cooking oil and more. Now, along with being a billionaire, Adani is also touted, rightly or wrongly, as a "friend" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which should have sounded nice but doesn’t because instead of “friend”, the word used is “crony", which while it is a synonym for “pal” and “friend”, also has a negative connotation.

Oxford, Cambridge and Merriam Webster will corroborate that even less honourable is when “crony” is clubbed with “capitalism”.

The reason why Modi-Adani and #StopAdani are trending in Sri Lankan social media is because allegations have been levelled that the Adani group was awarded a wind energy project in Sri Lanka because Prime Minister Narendra Modi put pressure on Gotabaya.

The Sri Lankans don’t like it. They were planning a "massive protest" against Gotabaya. And Colombo was awash with posters screaming "Stop Adani". On Thursday, June 16, Sri Lankans were to gather in front of Majestic City to register their protest to Adani and Modi allegedly taking advantage of Colombo.

According to the Cambridge dictionary “crony is a close friend or companion, someone who may not be honest”; like in “I’d like to see the president and his cronies booted out of office.”

And what does “crony capitalism” convey? The answer is “success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials.”

The allegation dogging Modi-Adani in Sri Lanka’s social media is that theirs is a relationship of “crony capitalism”, and, therefore, “Stop Adani” was trending. A classic case of crony capitalism is when the powerful government figure intervenes to benefit the crony.

Is “crony capitalism” corruption? The answer to that is any transaction that is based on incentives to one or both parties of the transaction is at some or other level corruption. Of course, every country’s government lobbies for profitable deals in other countries on behalf of their industries. But not many heads of State get involved to the extent that it starts trending in the social media of another country.

In this case, Sri Lanka. And the BJP and its cohorts cannot complain that the citizens of Sri Lanka have a visceral hatred for Modi and his Hindutva politics, like it can get away while dismissing the Opposition’s allegations against Modi. The Sri Lankans are questioning their own leadership. They don’t care what happens to Modi in India, or whether he gets bad press internationally.

“Crony capitalism” is a form of capitalism that flies at a level where it doesn’t capture the imagination of the common people. But “limiting competition” using a powerful person in government is classic crony capitalism, similar to influencing a foreign government to award a wind energy project to a favoured domestic company.

By the way, there’s an international crony capitalism index. Russia tops the index. India is No.9, and China No. 11. The United States at 16, and Germany at No. 22. Sri Lanka is nowhere in the list. The unsavoury reality is that crony capitalism donates huge money to political parties.

That said, the Adani Group has dismissed all allegations against it, saying that it was "disappointing".

(IPA Service)

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