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Secretary General

October 21,2013

Dr Manmohan Singh Honourable Prime Minister of India, South Block, New Delhi Respected Pradhan Mantriji, Please accept warmest greetings from ASSOCHAM which has always been a great admirer of your statesmanship and the way you have been leading the nation in the midst of a fractured domestic polity and global economic turmoil. Sir, as we were able to effectively deal with a recent crisis-like situation following a sharp depreciation of rupee as a result of outflows from the emerging markets and we thought the much-needed confidence was being restored, we find ourselves in a situation where half-baked cases are being slapped against top leaders of the industry and retired bureaucrats based on perceptions, interpretations and mere inferences, Sir, you often use a quote wanting Indian entrepreneurs to have animal spirit" to ensure that as an economy we achieve new heights to fight the curse of poverty through large scale employment generation and development of the country. An entrepreneur who is hungry for growth, as he should be, will surely need a hands-on relationship with the government so that all the hurdles and procedural delays do not cost him dearly. The job of the government is not only to regulate but also to facilitate enterprise. This only brings efficiency and sense of participation among the bureaucrats and even among the ministers in our common pursuit of nation-building.


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In this pursuit, we fail to understand how inferences can be drawn if industry leaders go and meet senior bureaucrats and ministers in full view of the media. As an industry chamber, we have no qualms in accepting that we have been INFLUENCING the government decisions right from the inception of ASSOCHAM in 1920 for the larger good of the industry and the country. Every citizen in a democracy has a right to influence the government decisions, but should it be perceived as a mala fide act of criminality. Sir, we are afraid, if this environment of distrust continues, the decision making will get further hampered and all those big projects recently cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) will not take off , since they will be stuck at the implementation stage because of demoralised bureaucracy and a shaken entrepreneur. The CBI cases against well respected industrialists and former senior bureaucrats are being taken, unfortunately, in this spirit, something we can ill-afford at this point of time when our economy is facing a tremendous loss of investor and consumer confidence. We fear that more industrialists could be targets of the CBI probes which in all likelihood would not bring out any substantial evidence of any wrongdoing, but the problem is that the reputation of individual enterprises gets jolted. On the other hand, the overall climate of investment and of doing business in India gets vitiated and is marked by distrust, the bane of any country aspiring to grow. In the midst of an environment of mistrust and unsubstantiated allegations of scams it is observed that the decision-makers in the government would prefer not to take decisions, lest they are hounded by investigative agencies even after their retirement. The situation would become even mor-e precarious in an election year. .


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We, in the ASSOCHAM , would seek your unstinted support for honest officials in the government machinery. Besides, your continuous and direct support is of utmost importance if the "animal spirit" has to be revived among the industry leaders, who would like to be respected in their own country and not be a subjects of media debates, day in and day out, based on mere suspicions and perceptions of wrong doings, just because a particular individual meets a secretary or a minister. The public discourse has to take a cue from countries like the US and European states where heads of governments - Presidents and the Prime Ministers never hesitate to advance interests of the corporations. They do it in good faith. We need to bring the same aggression and culture here. Not all acts of "influencing" should be treated as so-called crony capitalism. We find nothing wrong Sir, if a Chief Minister of a State writes to the Prime Minister favouring a particular project. After all, all the projects -private or public belong to the nation and the private individual or entrepreneur has the same right or a charge on the Chief Ministers and the Prime Minister as the public sector entity has. In this connection, we must appreciate a statement by your office clearing the air about the Hindalco project . The country needs your support for restoration of confidence and spirit of enterprise. With respectful regards, Yours


D.S. Rawat