Doing business in India is a nightmare and ‘maximum governance’ is a joke Mr Prime Minister


Rifat Jawaid


Dear Honourable Prime Minister,

Greetings from,

I’ve been meaning to write to you for quite sometime but apologies for not being able to do so. Not that you were looking forward to hearing from me either.

I’ve been a keen watcher of your politics and how you successfully mounted what many of your critics (both within the BJP and outside) termed an audacious campaign to become India’s first non-Congress prime minister with absolute majority.

I’ve also been following the speeches you’ve made as India’s new PM both in India particularly during elections and abroad during your frequent foreign trips. But, dare I say that there are simply far too many inconsistencies in what you say and how things have happened on the ground. Your opponents have even described you as a U-turn prime minister, but it will be wholly inappropriate for an impartial journalist such as yours truly to use that analogy to describe what I’ve been going through over the last few months.

Like, millions of Indians, it was music to my ears too when you first coined the phrase ‘Minimum Government and Maximum Governance.’ What it meant to me was that the governance under your regime will be simplified and an ordinary citizen running from pillar to post to get his/her work done by babus will be a thing of the past.

Please allow me to break this news to you. Your phrase of maximum governance has simply become a joke for ordinary people. I should know this because I’ve been a victim of how utterly insane the governance has become since you took over the reign as India’s new prime minister.

As good journalists do, I will also be substantiating my allegations with credible evidence. So here you go, Sir.

You are never tired of impressing upon the fact that how your leadership alone will result in inviting foreign investors to travel in India’s direction and awash our country with cash through unprecedented level of investments because, in your words, doing business in India will be a lot easier now that we have you as our prime minister.

In fact, as many as 55 CEOs agreed with you when they recently said how they were finding the environment incredibly conducive to do business in India. But that’s the perception of CEOs, who earn in millions, have no understanding of how society functions at the ground level and most of whom don’t even vote even though they their cashflow usually fund your ‘5-star campaign.’ Mssrs Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav be warned as elections in Bihar are not too far.

Of course 55 top CEOs endorsing your government will always make a great headline. I don’t blame you for feeling good even at the risk of gloating about it. But, if I were you, I would exercise slight caution on this endorsement. One approval, and the most important one, you needed to actively seek was how you were being perceived by janta. After all, they are the ones who will decide your electoral fate in the upcoming Bihar elections and many more till 2019 same as they did in this year’s Delhi elections.

Coming to my list of grievances, I may not be Sunil Bharti Mittal or Mukesh Ambani both of whom had spotted a prime ministerial material in you long before anyone else did. After all, they are India’s most successful business leaders for a reason, right? But, I too have no less ambition than these two gentlemen.

With this ambition coupled with my determination to create an honest media platform in mind, I launched my new start-up called three months ago. But, soon I realised that doing business was anything but easy in India particularly under your regime Mr Prime Minister.

Within four weeks of opening my first current account in India, your friend Chanda Kochar’s bank ICICI decided to close my account for no reason. Of course, I protested, fervently tweeted and sought legal help from friends, but I couldn’t take my grievance against Ms Kochar and her staff responsible any further as you’ve not established any redressal forum that can effectively act against these corrupt business houses in a timeliness fashion. You may well know that I was neither operating in hawala money nor were there any pending investigations against me by  ‘your’ Enforcement Directorate.

In fact, those who are actually accused of operating in hawala money and being investigated by ED, have received extraordinary help and blessings from some of your colleagues. The current logjam in parliament will corroborate that.

In the absence of any satisfactory answers from your friend Ms Kochar, I had no option but to conclude that her arrogance and conviction to get away with any violations of RBI guidelines with impunity stemmed from her friendship with you. Her love for you may not be news to you as she has even changed her twitter handle to display her commitment to your pet campaign Swacch Bharat Abhiyan. That’s some friendship indeed.

The other day, I was shifting my office from Delhi to Noida. I requested Airtel, a telecom giant owned by another good mate of yours, Sunil Bharti Mittal, to transfer the leaseline to my new office address. Do you know the timeframe they offered me to process this request? A minimum of 30 days and that too if they took my case on priority. Whether, Airtel’s internet connectivity is any good is a separate topic of discussion.

Frustrated by their reply, I then requested Airtel’s executives to cancel my contract with immediate effect and refund the amount owed by them. It’s been more than a month and I’ve not heard anything from them. Of course, I’m determined to teach Airtel a lesson and will be taking necessary steps against them, but you would appreciate the adverse impact this unnecessary distraction will be causing on my business prospects.

I know you are used to dealing in crores, whether it’s your high profile election campaigns or your much publicised foreign trips. So a ‘meagre’ sum of Rs 12,000 owed by your friend’s company may mean nothing to you, but many of your potential voters in Bihar will tell you that not many of them are able to earn this much even over the period of six months.

I don’t know about your preferred mobile network ( I bet it’s Airtel),  but I’ve been using Vodafone since I returned to India couple of years ago. Please ask me about my experience with them because I’m desperate to tell you that it simply sucks. I pay quite a lot of money towards my 3G and mobile connectivity and seldom do they work. In a stretch of one kilometer, I will be lucky if I can have one uninterrupted phone conversation with my mates, who are of course not as important as Mittals and Ambanis of the world. I don’t know about others, but 3G has become an ‘Eid ka chaand’ on my mobile. Or if you prefer a more friendly and non-minority sounding analogy, then let’s say that 3G now doesn’t appear on my handset even once in a blue moon. And my wife just spent over Rs 60,000 on buying me what she thought was the best mobile handset in the market. All this for what’s now become nothing more than a ‘dubba.’

More recently, I applied for OCI card for my daughter as we desperately needed to travel abroad. Even though your home ministry’s website promises to process the OCI applications within four to six weeks, I have not heard anything from the flagbearers of your ‘maximum governance’ slogans more than eight weeks after submitting my application to FRRO office, which falls under the home ministry.

And the list is endless but I will not waste your time as my fellow countrymen have tasked you with an important responsibility of shaping the future of India.

I would like to believe the shenanigans of ICICI, Airtel, Vodafone and FRRO don’t have your blessings. But, as they say in England (sorry it’s not a ‘Make in India’ phrase), the proof of the pudding lies in eating. Until we get reprieve from these evil corporate houses enjoying your patronage and corrupt babus of your government, who all are hell-bent on tormenting us hapless individuals, we would have no options but to blame you. Please act fast, because I’ve just returned from Bihar and things are not looking good for you, I’m afraid.

Your supporters ridiculed my assessment of Delhi and you saw what happened to you in the capital. In Bihar, I’ve an additional advantage, which is the fact that yours truly is Bihari. I get the sense that thanks to your opponents such as Nitish and Lalu, people are unlikely to take you seriously next time you coin another set of catchy slogans. You still have two more months to get your ‘Maximum Governance’ slogan right. Please do something about the aforesaid grievances, and you never know I may even persuade my folks (they are 400 of them) in Bihar to vote for your party.

Yours sincerely,

Rifat Jawaid,

PS: Please visit our website and also ask your colleagues to make themselves accessible to us.

Rifat Jawaid is the Editor-in-Chief of