After the $700 billion US government bail out of investment banks, now America’s automakers want a bailout too. Though India remains largely unscathed by the global financial contagion, corporate India is worried. Suddenly the cries of deregulation and lesser government intervention are forgotten and they are singing a different tune. Many corporate honchos are not averse to a helping hand from the government.
Says KV Kamath, MD and CEO of ICICI Bank, “You are growing in a market economy but at the same time the benefit of that growth should reach the masses. And if it doesn’t reach down to the masses through normal market policies then the government will have to intervene.” Kamath says most governments across the world will intervene as and when required.
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The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) has asked for a $1 billion (about Rs5,000 crore) interest free loan from the government to tide over the current crisis in addition to many other fiscal sops and easing of regulatory measures.
Rising fuel costs and falling ticket sales have heavily bled airlines. But nobody disputes that factory output is sputtering and many say worse could follow.
“I don’t think the Indian industry or any sector has asked for a bailout. All they’ve asked for is a facilitative environment. The government has responded- saying yes we’ll work on it. I’m sure we’ll see the results in the coming days,” says Kamath.
But others in corporate India think the government should not be players and act as parents to guide the industry. “There is a significant role for the government to play in the on going crisis. Sometimes the government has to participate by way of providing resources. I think its more resource support than being players,” says B Ramalingam Raju, the founder and chairman of Satyam Computer Services.
However, auto heavyweight Rahul Bajaj said corporate India already has too much government intervention and needs to be freed off its shackles to compete more effectively.