As a student of Indian politics, it is clear to me that the corporate-politics-policy linkage was always there, dating from the days of freedom struggle when a section of the Indian business community helped the Congress leadership sustain its fight against the colonial order. After Independence, Jawaharlal Nehru and others were wise enough to give the industry a sense of partnership in nation-building. For example, Nehru used to regularly address the annual meeting of the FICCI.
The scene changed after 1991, when economic reforms and globalisation acquired an intellectual hegemony. Now, India too is witnessing the same struggle that most Western democracies, including the US, face: the stand-off between the state and the market (especially its manipulative hot money operators). Since 2009, corporate India has waged a kind of hidden war on the Indian state, a messy affair which became messier because of the intra-corporate rivalry and greed. The Niira Radia tapes were the first salvo in the war among the corporate profiteers. The Anna Hazare movement was a diversionary stratagem, and it folded itself up only when the Indian state and its various institutions gave up making the corporate houses conform to the rigours of the rule of law.
The media, at least large chunks of it, are part of the corporate structure; more importantly, most of the leading media personalities have self-recruited themselves as junior cheerleaders in the insistent clamour for “more reforms”. I believe corporate India remains unmollified, despite the finance minister bending over backward to appease it. They are looking for a new mascot, who would not be slowed down by any social conscience or by the morally desirable “inclusive” society. Modi is the chosen one. What is pathetic is that the Left has allowed itself to be blinded by all the corporate media-generated “corruption” noise, and has in the process egged the middle classes towards unhealthy right-wing attitudes.
Former media advisor to the prime minister, Harish Khare is the recipient of the Jawaharlal Nehru fellowship for 2013