Mukesh bhai is a smart cat – he used the Mumbai/Marathi taxi driver controversy to push the Indian liberalisation idea.
During a panel discussion at the London School of Economics he reportedly said that while India’s corporate world had moved away from ‘licence Raj’ after economic liberalisation, Mumbai’s “poor taxi-wala is still dealing with licence Raj”. The gathering applauded.
He was telling the diaspora achievers, “The achievements of our diaspora help India, but now is the time to come back. There are more opportunities in India.”
How have the achievements of the diaspora helped India? What diaspora is he talking about? The LSE-Ivy League one. The success stories. The return carrot is being dangled because it will make the liberalisation more acceptable.
His is a limited perspective. “We are all Indians first. Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi belong to all Indians. That is the reality.”
What about Jamshedpur, Junagadh, Singur, Nandigram? Why are the areas where the real money is made left out? They must not belong to everyone because that is where the riches will spurt from.
If we return to the first statement I quoted, his amnesia is palpable. Dhirubhai Ambani can be called the father of the Licence Raj. It was used rather effectively. Now, just because the son is sanctified by Forbes and, don’t forget, the brothers had managed to get the father legitimised by Wharton, the licence Raj is considered wrong. The “poor taxi-wala” got applause from an audience that will never have to deal with such situations; they are reaping the harvest of this same licence Raj that their parents made use of.
The issue is not of getting permits, but of not being permitted on parochial lines. Has Mukesh Ambani asked the cab drivers or the masala-papad waalas abroad to return? They too face discrimination in countries they have migrated to – be it on the basis of religion, language or place of origin.