Economy
AD Shroff: The Guardian of Liberty
On 29th September, The Forum of Free Enterprise, an organization started by one of India’s leading financial thinkers, AD Shroff way back in 1956, celebrated 60 years of its existence. The Forum started as a strong voice against the socialist poli-cies adopted by the Nehru government, which systematically stifled free enterprise. Unfortunately, the Forum’s thoughts were quickly suppressed, especially since Mr Shroff passed away soon after. Since then, Mr Nani Palkhivala and his famous budg-et speeches whose audience filled up a cricket stadium, remained the voice of the Forum. 
 
At the event to market the 60th year of the Forum of Free Enterprise yesterday, in-dustrialist Nadir Godrej recited a poem that beautifully captured the essence of the Forum and  government policies over the years, attracting repeated applause from an appreciate audience.
 
Here is what he said:
 
As India enters her seventieth year
There is indeed much to cheer.
And we could claim that we have both
Stability and steady growth.
But when we started at the gate
All we could claim was the Hindu rate.
An opportunity was lost.  
And India paid a heavy cost.
In our Republic's early days 
There is so much that we should praise.
It gives us all much elation
Our selfless leaders built a nation.
Civil discourse was maintained.
A scientific temper was regained. 
Alas! One thing we didn't see
Was a free enterprise economy.
Nehru had a socialist bent
And that's the way the economy went.
Heavy industry was prized.
Some sectors were nationalised.
The Government seized the commanding heights
Not much was left for lesser lights.
And where they were allowed to play
Impediments came in the way.
Such horrors businesses would see:
Exchange controls, MRTP,
Licensing in great detail
And limitations on your scale!
 
Tax rates that confiscated all.
The economy just hit a wall.
One man would not accept this fall
A. D. Shroff then took a call.
Surprised by these alarming trends
He roped in some good business friends
For the Forum of Free Enterprise.
Now A. D. Shroff was truly wise.
For years the lamp continued burning
And children found that they were learning
The virtues of free enterprise,
A principle that still applies
Though those with another point of view
Always fail but rise anew.
In the early days they dominated.
The forum wasn't tolerated.
 
By FICCI it was castigated.
Alas! It must be clearly stated
That business support was rather low
And businessmen went with the flow.
They chose not to criticise.
Perhaps they sought a little prize,
A license here, a permission there
They did not want to lose their share.
The Government began to frown.
There was a move to close it down. 
But thinking the Forum to be weak,
 
They thought its prospects very bleak.
A natural death was then preferred
And forcing closure was deferred.
But the Forum did find some support
And don't you think all of us ought
To lend a hand to free enterprise 
And build an economy of a good size,
Where through hard work and a little giving
All can enjoy a decent living.
The Forum's famous budget speech
Where Nani Palkhivala'd preach
The virtues of free enterprise
And castigate what was not wise.
With all the facts at his fingertips,
The audience could come to grips
With the budget's intricacies.
And never with notes, if you please.
The budget contents were often grim
But Brabourne Stadium filled to the brim.
Though policies left little scope
Our Nani still filled us with hope.
By Milton Friedman they were lauded
All their efforts should be applauded.
Professionalism was always prized
And Good Governance was advised.
Their plan for youth education 
Was such a boon for our nation.
And once or twice I participated 
And what I said then will be restated:
"In ancient times despots ruled.
And most of them were not well schooled.
And while there was free enterprise
The rulers could claim any prize
 
Since power vested at the top.
Then people slowly put a stop
To absolute, unbridled power,
No more did nobles have to cower.
They did rise up and as a starter
The King proclaimed the Magna Carta.
They then set up a parliament
And representatives were sent,
All issues were discussed at length
And gradually it gained in strength.
There came a time when all could vote
But it’s important that we note,
There were struggles, there were tears,
Democracy took years and years.
In England there was evolution
In France there was revolution.
The slogan there was Liberty,
Equality, Fraternity.
In every kind of polity
The have-nots like equality.
And often people think it’s good
To have someone like Robin Hood,
Who creeps upon the rich with stealth
And distributes unequal wealth."
Someone is there who always panders
Just have a look at Bernie Sanders!
"And this was tried, in many ways,
Long ago in the Soviet days.
It’s true disparities were small,
Although behind the Kremlin wall,
Officials lived a life of ease,
While the economy was on its knees.
 
Before we start to distribute 
Someone else must contribute.
And if you take, what people make,
They will, then feel, they have no stake.
You can be sure that they won’t try.
They won’t produce, they’d rather die.
And so, although, equality
Is a desired quality
It can’t replace our liberty.
We can’t produce, unless we’re free.
And yet, for years, we couldn’t see
That a socialist society
Could not produce the goods we needed.
If only then we had just heeded
The good advice of M. R. Pai.
And all we had to do was try
And look at it from a different prism
And thus give up on socialism.
If only we could have been wise
In trying out Free Enterprise.
The gains that now we see at last,
We could have had them in our past.
We had to await Manmohan Singh,
World Bank and IMF to bring
Reforms that helped to save the day
And demonstrate the golden way."
By protesting strongly in its day
The Forum helped to pave the way.
As reforms come at a faster pace
Our India's bound to lead the race.
The advantages we clearly see
In the Forum's Diamond Jubilee.

 

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COMMENTS

Ramesh Poapt

5 months ago

Great!

Let's aim for peace, but be prepared for war
India -- under Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- crossed the line of control in more ways than one on September 29, 2016. Posterity will be a better and truer judge, but Thursday's surgical strike by our Special Forces is a game-changer both in terms of how we view ourselves and how the world sees India.
 
So, what has India achieved by this surgical strike?
 
First, as a nation we have regained our self-respect and self-esteem. Whether it was the attack on the Indian parliament, 26/11, the Mumbai train explosions, Pathankot or Uri, each time we were gripped by a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. We would wring our hands, make preparations for war, amass troops on the border, raise the issue at international fora, summon Pakistan's High Commissioner in Delhi, talk of breaking diplomatic relations... talk, talk and more talk. That's all we always did. This made us look weak, cowardly and helpless in our own eyes. The surgical strikes have rid us of that strange, almost embarrassed feeling of being emasculated as a nation. 
 
Second, the same message has been sent to the world. There was a predictable monotony to India's reaction these past 20 years -- ever since India and Pakistan went public with their nuclear prowess. World leaders did help us hide our embarrassment by constantly advising us to practise restrain. But somewhere, there must be building a feeling of contempt towards us: That India is a soft (a softer world for cowardly) state that does not have the courage to avenge its dead. 
 
How can we expect others to give us respect and take us seriously if our response to a hostile and aggressive neighbour is seen as timid and meek? Not once or twice but always. One cannot always be mature, pragmatic and practical. And yes, our economic might and potential has got us a seat at the high table -- but if we want to stay there and become a global power one day, we have to be seen as a country which is able to defend itself militarily. 
 
Forget becoming a super power, this is the least one would expect from a self-respecting sovereign state. 
 
Third, finally we have crossed the Rubicon vis-a-vis Pakistan and have called their nuclear bluff. It was sick the manner in which the Pakistani establishment used to threaten us day in and out with nuclear reprisal if we ever tried to answer them in their language. Islamabad and its band of non-state actors had figured us out very well and every action and reaction of India was taken under the shadow of this nuclear blackmail by Pakistan. 
 
By crossing the Line of Control, India has shown it is prepared to walk the tough talk. From here on it can never be business as usual and Islamabad will have to rethink its policies. Because in one strike Delhi has junked its 20-year policy of passive, diplomatic aggression. Till now Pakistan-based terrorists and their handlers could be sure of India's response to any terror attack: There will be lot of hue and cry, upping of the ante, war talk and threats of punitive, fitting response, opinion mobilisation across the world et al, nothing will actually happen on the ground. 
 
The surgical strikes have blown to bits this policy. Now Rawalpindi knows there will be a price to pay for its actions. So, it will be forced to rethink its strategy because Delhi's past passive approach is now off the table. 
 
Fourth, India's retaliation is not Rambo-like, reeking of reckless bravado. In fact, the entire operation bears the stamp of maturity, subtlety and even restraint. By saying that Indian commandos targeted terror camps and terrorists waiting to cross over, Delhi has provided an exit route to the Pakistani Army. By not claiming that Pakistani troops have been worsted and humbled in this operation, India is trying to send multiple messages. 
 
The first and most obvious one is that India will, henceforth, exercise its right to retaliate. 
 
But the between-the-lines messaging is equally important. The tone and tenor of the briefing after the strike by Delhi was not jingoistic and chest-thumping in nature. That's why there is no international disapproval of India's action. It also gives enough room to Islamabad to get out of a tricky situation and allow for matters to calm down.
 
The question on everyone's mind now is: What next? Delhi has already done what it had to and said clearly that there will be no more strikes. India will most definitely not want to escalate. 
 
So, the ball is in Pakistan's court. It has already rubbished Indian claims about the surgical strikes. It can stick to this stand and allow matters to cool down. But what if someone in Rawalpindi decides to up the ante and get adventurous? These are uncertain times there as a change of guard is due in the Pakistani Army with General Raheel Sharif's tenure ending in November. 
 
And what if there is another terror attack on India? What will be Delhi's reaction then? And how will it impact the overall situation? 
 
These questions are difficult to answer. What is clear is that things will never be the same again in the subcontinent after Thursday's surgical strikes. 
 
We should aim for peace, but be prepared for all eventualities, including war. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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SC orders Shahabuddin back to jail
The Supreme Court on Friday ordered RJD strongman Mohammad Shahabuddin back to jail in the Rajiv Roshan murder case.
 
The Bihar government along with Rajiv Roshan's father Chandrakeshwar Prasad had challenged the bail granted to Shahabuddin in the apex court.
 
A September 7 order of the Patna High Court had granted bail to Shahabuddin and he was released on September 10 from the Bhagalpur jail.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

SRINIVAS SHENOY

5 months ago

What do you think?... Write your comments. Politicians and the rich are good at circumventing the provisions of law in their favour. The Supreme Court has acted aptly, and justly.

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