Crony Capitalism in India under Narendra Modi
Business and politics in India have been closely connected since the colonial era, when entrepreneurs financed politicians who, in exchange, spared them some of the bureaucratic red tape. This proximity has endured after independence, even if Nehru’s official socialism subjected it to some constraints. Far from mitigating corruption, economic liberalization during the 1990s actually amplified it when large investors, attracted by the opening of the Indian market, paid huge bribes to political leaders, who often became businessmen themselves and forced public banks to lend to industrialists close to them, while businessmen were elected to Parliament, increasing insider trading. As it is observed in the modern era under Narendra Modi, be it at the national level and in his state of Gujarat, crony capitalism is well illustrated by Modi’s relationship to Gautam Adani, the rising star of Indian business. Crony capitalism has a financial cost (due to the under-taxation of companies and dubious debts on the banks’ balance sheets), a social cost (due to underpaid work and a reduction of the expenditure of education or health for lack of fiscal resources) and the environment (crony capitalists disregarding the most basic standards).