Hong Kong is an international financial centre that has the world’s 6th highest GDP per capita, supporting 33 per cent of the foreign capital flows into China. In size, it is a mere 1,104 km², which is less than 1/100th of 114,840 km², the size of the to-be-formed Telengana state.
Why am I comparing the super-economy, international state with a non-existent-state-in-the-Indian-political-news? Well, yes, for some of you the thought must definitely be premature and funny. But I find myself struck by this thought: if what was once a fishing village and a salt-trading site can become an economic hub after being leased to capitalist British, why not the same formula within India? How about leasing out 2-3 states to professional corporate groups and letting them create a constitution, govern and develop the state, and scale up its economy? And all of this within the ambit of their joint corporate social responsibility (CSR). The national and state governments may only support the CSR-run state with their resources and not interfere in its politics. Let CEOs be ministers and their departmental heads the bureaucrats.
Oh yes, I can hear murmurs in the crowd: ‘These business people will simply eat up the state, leave its people hungry and fill their own coffers.’ However, isn’t this the situation even without the business people? Moreover, all businesses are directly or indirectly dependent on their consumers and cannot afford to mess up their CSR and sustainability reports, which consumers are gradually beginning to understand. Like it is with politicians, image matters for all corporate groups – but unlike in the case of many politicians, even the development of the state and its people matters to businessmen. For ministers, development is politics; for businessmen it is business.
Such stray thoughts may not serve much practical purpose save mocking the current scenario where everyone wants a state—as if the country were a freshly baked pie. Yet, if the government is all set to cut more pieces, it must consider one for responsible and sustainable companies. They might ‘really’ make one Hong Kong or Shanghai in India – the names that many chief ministers have been referring to while trying to present the future image of their states.
Also, the government will not have to worry if corporates are rightly spending two per cent of their profits (just made mandatory) towards social responsibility, since with the freedom to undertake development they will happily spend much more than that.