When General Motors president Charles Wilson was appointed secretary of defence by President Dwight David Eisenhower in the early 1950s, the possibility of conflict of interest was very real. Asked if he could make a decision adverse to the interests of GM, Wilson said he could not, but added he could not conceive of such a situation, “because for years I thought what was good for the country was good for GM and vice versa.” That statement has sinced morphed into “What’s good for GM is good for America.”
In a week when captains of Indian industry have plumped for Gujarat chief minister Narendra Damodar Modi as the next prime minister, it is worth asking: “Is what is good for Indian industrialists, good for India, too?”
# Airtel chief Sunil Mittal has said: “We have seen CEOs running good companies, but Modi is that successful CEO who runs an entire state. We need him in Delhi.”
# Anil Ambani of ADAG has said: “If one Dhirubhai Ambani could do so much just imagine what ten Dhirubhais could have done. For Modi, too, one can say the same thing. He is the next leader of India.”
While such a rousing endorsement must be sweet music for Modi, 58, it does two things.
One, it throws the BJP leadership issue into a tizzy. The designated PM-candidate Lal Krishna Advani, 82, is waiting in the wings, 85-year-old Bhairon Singh Shekawat has thrown his hat into the ring, and there are other claimants. And two, it opens up the old debate: can a state, or a nation, be run like a company? Can a nation be run like a business, with all the focus on the “bottomline”? Is what is good for India Inc, good for India?
In other words, because Gujarat has shown good growth under Modi, is it naturally presumed that Modi has it in him to overcome all the big issues of the day?