How private businesses imperil our health as well as prosperity

Source: This post is based on the article “How private businesses imperil our health as well as prosperity” published in Livemint on 31st August 2021. 

Relevance: Corporate Responsibilities, Indian Industries and growth.

Synopsis: Private sector receives so much from the government such as tax breaks and subsidies but offers very less in return to the citizens of India. It considers consumers more as a source of profit than the reason for its existence.  

Problems with India’s private sector
  • The so-called excellent companies, treat customers in an indifferent manner, and they end up cheating not just their consumers but the entire economy. This culture that employees imbibe seeps into their psyche. Even if some of them step out to become entrepreneurs, they practice the art they had learned while employed. 
  • Some of these firms conceal data regarding healthy foods or drinks. For example, former head of the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) revealed the difficulties that the statutory body has faced in trying to announce standards. On one hand, processed and packaged food manufacturers have been stalling efforts on labelling their products with color codes for their fat, salt and sugar content.  And on the other hand, Indian children suffer from obesity and malnutrition because food products do not carry adequate information on their sugar content. 
  • Self-governance is all but rare. These industry bodies implore the government to remove red tape, lower tax rates, provide tax breaks and offer subsidies. They want interest rates to go down, which serves business borrowers well, but they have not stepped up and offered something in return.  
  • Lastly, industry organizations do not spearhead a campaign on any issue of national significance such as supporting MSMEs by making large firms pay their bills on time.  

Conclusion

The private sector should be held accountable for matters of national importance as it receives a tiny fraction of the scrutiny that governments face for their acts of omission and commission. 

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