Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s call to the corporate sector, made during the annual meeting of CII, to help promote inclusive growth is an odd combination of the classical liberal case for competition and the Gandhian notion of trusteeship.
While he spoke out against price-fixing cartels and the need to promote enterprise and innovation, the Prime Minister also asked India’s business leaders to embrace voluntary restraint—in the salaries that they pay senior executives, in conspicuous consumption and by taking care of their workers.
There are many different cultures of capitalism, and some promote more equality than others. Japan and the US are obvious examples. The problem is that the Prime Minister’s speech was peppered with imprecise terms. Excessive remuneration. Profits within the bounds of decency and greed. Wasteful lifestyles of the Western world. All this is perhaps desirable. But is it practical?