How Business and Politics Intersect in India's Porous State
[Excerpted from "India’s Porous State: Blurred Boundaries and the Evolving Business-State Relationship in India" by Aseema Sinha]
As Abantika Ghosh reported in the Indian Express, in March–April 2015, a member of the parliamentary committee on health claimed that there were no health risks associated with tobacco use. The mainstream media laughed at this suggestion. However, his comments were consequential; he was Shyama Charan Gupta, a BJP MP, known as the “bidi baron,” with an annual turnover of Rs. 200–250 crore in the bidi business. The health ministry heeded the recommendation of the parliamentary health committee not to display a warning covering 85 percent of tobacco products. This example highlights the emerging instrumental role of business actors within a national institution: the parliament, where economic policymaking has become more salient. Business’s role in parliamentary committees has become especially prominent, even as committees overseeing economic and financial matters have proliferated. By now, a large number of . . .