His remarks present the first time a Union Minister has openly criticized the Indian Inc.
In an unprecedented incident, the Union Minister of Commerce & Industry Piyush Goyal launched a verbal rebuttal against the Indian Inc. For their business practices and narrow interests.
He made many sharp remarks while speaking at the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). These unprovoked remarks left the leading India Inc. CEOs attending the meet baffled.
Remarks on Tata Group
At the annual meet, he targeted Indian Inc for their narrow business interests.
He went on to name the Tata Group in particular for trying to oppose and bypass the e-commerce rules framed by the government for the benefit of the consumers.
He noted that many companies do not respect the spirit of Law and repeatedly find ways to bypass the Law.
Mr Goyal particularly called out Tata Sons’ President Banmali Agrawala present at the event expressing his disappointment that the Indian conglomerate was opposing the e-commerce rules framed to protect the consumers.
He reportedly mentioned that he also conveyed the same sentiment to ‘Chandra’, referring to the Chairman of Tata Sons, Mr Natarajan Chandrasekaran.
He mentioned that “it hurts” that Tata Sons object against the rules and regulations brought to benefit the consumers. Referring to the Tata Group, he sharply remarked that once you buy out a few foreign companies, their importance becomes greater than national interests?
We need to move forward from the ‘Me, myself and my company’ mindset and thrive to serve our country’s interests.
He went on to ask Tata Steel to try to sell their products in nations such as South Korea, Japan which are “nationalists” in their economic policies.
In contrast, he said that Indian companies would import products even if it helped them save just ten paise in the cost of production instead of procuring that from the domestic market.
He thus lashed out at the Indian industries that, on the one hand, they want import protection such as anti-dumping duties, etc., to protect their domestic business.
Still, at the same time, they want their exports to be protected in foreign markets. He assured that the interests of the Indian industries would be protected in the various Free
Trade Agreements, but they have to become competitive rather than depending on government protection.
India Inc. Baffled
He questioned the industries about their FDI practices, stating that they don’t follow the spirit of Law.
He also urged the industries to consider buying from domestic sources, especially the MSMEs, even if it costs a little more for the larger national interests.
Bringing up the issue of vaccination, he reminded India Inc. of their claims to vaccinate their employees and their families, neighbours, the villages near their factories, etc.
He said now that 25% of the vaccines are reserved for the private sector, he is yet to see the claims made by the industries being fulfilled.
Such impromptu remarks, coming directly from the minister’s heart, left the India Inc. leaders present at the meeting perplexed and baffled.
A Union minister has never publicly made such strong remarks against the private sector’s business practices, especially naming a few.
The video containing a 19-minute long speech of Mr Goyal was initially uploaded on YouTube, but later it was removed possibly because of the strong remarks made by the minister.
An edited version of the video was uploaded on YouTube, but even that was taken down later.
Remarks on Economic Inequality
Mr Goyal also noted that “too much profit” in the hands of a few can create many problems in the country and, therefore, urged the industry leaders to not let the “greed of some deprive the need of many.”
He stated that there is a limit to how much people can tolerate such inequality.
Talking about the land the government was trying to acquire for the high-speed train corridor, he mentioned the inhabitants’ resistance who criticized that even though there would be infrastructure development on the acquired land, it would not improve their lives.
Mr Goyal, apart from handling the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, also heads the Ministry of Textiles and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. Currently, he also is the Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha.
He has previously secured AIR 2 in the CA exams and also is a rank holder in Law. His remarks present the first time a Union Minister has openly criticized the Indian Inc.
Moreover, his comments came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured the Indian industries of complete support and urged them to increase their risk appetite and investments, especially in research and development.