Crony Capitalism Leads To Exploitation
It can encourage corruption, lead to an imbalanced divide
Although there are some foreign words that have been given a liberal linguistic space in our dictionary, ‘Bespredel’ doesn’t exist. This Russian term is close to the English word ‘lawlessness’.
The corrupt actions of those who abuse their power and exercise control over others, the one who violates not only the law, but also moral and social norms is called an official ‘Bespredel’.’ And a person who behaves in this manner is called a ‘Bespredelshchik’.
Anyway, back to our own comfort zone and to the words that already exist in our Dictionary. Let us pick two random words and dissect them. ‘Crony Capitalism’. What is it and what is it capable of?
Crony capitalism can lead to exploitation because individuals or business magnates with close political connections gain an unfair advantage in the marketplace, often by bribing government officials. Unless the rules of law are honestly and strictly practiced by the officials in charge.
Crony Capitalism distorts the market competition. When some are given an unfair advantage over others, it makes it difficult for smaller businesses and entrepreneurs to succeed. Unless the ‘barriers’ are reduced so that new entrants are encouraged to compete with already established ones.
Crony capitalism can lead to an imbalanced divide. When there is a concentration of wealth and power in the hands of only a few individuals or corporations, the gap between the ‘Princes’ and the paupers increases. Unless there is an ethical responsibility to act in the best interest of the society as a whole, to ensure public trust.
Crony capitalism encourages corruption. When dropouts who do not possess any entrepreneurial acumen but are well versed in navigating India's regulatory maze through their proximity to those in power; when a closed group of billionaires are opaque in their dealings; then frauds with their fraudulent dealings will automatically prosper.
Unless, there is an increased transparency of political donations, and all lobbying activities and all elected officials are held accountable for every deceitful act.
A clutch of billionaire cronies are growing richer at everyone else's expense. The outsized success of these well-connected business magnates, even during tough economic times definitely should raise concerns.
Moreover, what is ironic is that the 2014 election victory was powered by widespread public disgust at the perceived nexus between government and big business. In fact that was what resulted in a spate of corruption scams which became instrumental in tarnishing the image of the previous government.
But surprisingly, even while crony capitalism is still alive and thriving in this ‘New India’, it has not evoked public outcry. There are no dharnas and no major scams have also come to the surface.
What is even more interesting is that our new oligarchs position themselves as national champions, marshalling rhetoric that echoes throughout the nation. All of which is amplified with the help of the loudspeakers of WhatsApp University and the bullhorns of our laptop media.
But thanks to the social network, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) on Thursday once again targeted billionaire Gautam Adani's group, alleging that his family has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in its own companies through Mauritius-based 'opaque' investment funds.
Of course these were immediately rejected as ‘recycled allegations,' by the Adani group. But it wasn’t any ‘random’ newspaper that carried the news but two global financial ones. They have raised a very important question hinting that it affects investments and tarnishes the perception of India in the eyes of the world.
It is doubtful whether the cronyism embedded in India's economic fabric will disappear anytime soon.
It is not a secret that governments all over are crony capitalists. What is scary though is the thought that if this concealed 'cronyism’ brazenly carries on, regardless of surveys that are termed as ‘international conspiracies; not considering the need for any investigations, will my secure and benign country one day turn into a nation of gangster capitalists?
Something like what happened in Russia? After the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, during the turbulent transition from communism to state capitalism, a period of complete lawlessness had gripped the country. It was said that those days the economic and political levers of power were vulnerable to, or in the hands of, organised crime. I know it’s a far cry but… What If?
Transparency, accountability, trust, integrity, the rule of law and the freedom to enquire are all keys to a healthy system. If they are all tossed away in a sea of insurgency, who knows what will happen?
What if today's cronies suddenly become tomorrow's gangsters? What if there is a sudden surge of arbitrariness? It may sound thrilling to the ears but being ruled by ‘Bespredelshciks’ is not as pleasing as it sounds.
They can actually be detrimental when they are dominant. So the choice is ours. Should ‘Bespredel’ be included in our dictionary? Or should we be happy and content with the word ‘Democracy’?
The views expressed are the writer’s own.