Social Responsibility of the Business Class

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India is a democratic country which is striving hard to stand on her own in the economic sphere. Nehruji put India on the path of democratic socialism. A series of Five-year-Plans were initia­ted to ensure an integrated and balanced growth in the field of agriculture, industry, trade and commerce. This needs the active co-operation of various factors. One important factor of the Indian economy is the business class—the proverbial ‘Bania who has been the king-pin of the country’s economy since the hoary past. But while the business of the historical past served both the nation and the self and when the occasion demanded it, sacrificed their all, like what Bhama Shah did to Rana Pratap, today the busi­ness class has been fishing in troubled Waters. Instead of upholding the balance of economy, they are actively instrumental in disturbing it to the point of endangering national solidarity.

Putting self before everything, these devotees of Mammon are flouting all rules of social morality and are engaged in all sorts of nefarious, illegal and anti-national activities like monopoly, black-marketing, stock piling, smuggling tax-evasion, manufacturing spurious articles, adulteration, bribing and corruption. The industrialist, the manufacturer, the black-marketer, the wholesaler and the retailer—all seem to have joined hands in an all out bid to exploit the consumers, to cheat the Government of legitimate revenues and to hold the nation’s economy to ransom. Their common tactics are inadequate production, stock piling, market rigging, manipulation of supply, monopolistic practices, and then, creating artificial prices on the own hand, and on the other, submission of false accounts in collu­sion with the revenue staff.

The Government has evicted strict laws to curb this anti-national activity of the business, but there are flaws and loop-holes in the implementation. So the manufacturers and the traders go on merrily fleecing the consumers and cheating the Government. More than legislation, attempts should be made to persuade the business class to follow fair trade practices, reduce the profit margin, make and sell good quality stuff and keep the national interest uppermost in mind. They should be made to realize the responsibility they owe to society, the social aspect of business.

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An eminent economist Milton Friedman is of the view that the one and only social responsibility of business is to use their resour­ces and engage in activities designed to increase their profits. The only responsibility he acknowledges is to stay within the rules of the game. But it should not be forgotten that businessmen are not only promoters of business but citizens of a nation also. The wel­fare of the nation is as much their responsibility as of any other citizen.

Like every other activity, business too has its own ethics, its own rules of the game which should be honestly followed. Tempted by the desire of reaping rich profits, businessmen often indulge in nefarious activities like adulteration, hoarding, black-marketing, smuggling, etc. Such activities do bring some quick money, but they eat into the very vitals of the economy. Business ethics demand that businessmen should resist the temptation of growing rich quickly, by taking resort to such harmful activities.

Our Government has repeatedly declared its ultimate objec­tive of establishing a socialistic pattern of society in which there will be equitable distribution of income and each Indian will be given equal opportunities of progress. Our businessmen must cont­ribute all they can towards the realization of this objective. They must abide by the rules and regulations of the government. They must function with in the economic structure provided by the Government. This is the least that can be expected of them.

All businessmen owe an important responsibility towards their customers. There is such a wide variety of goods available in the market that the customers just feel baffled by them. The relation­ship between the businessman and the customer has a sanctity of its own and that sanctity should not be violated. Businessmen should try to educate the customers. They should offer them genuine products and guide them about what exactly will answer their needs. This might be a time-consuming exercise but it is likely to bring rich dividends even to businessmen.

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Finally, businessmen have a responsibility towards their em­ployees. Since India suffers from mass unemployment and the business sector can offer employment to a large number of people, it is easy for businessmen to exploit their employees. Often, emp­loyees are underpaid. Other benefits like leave facilities and provi­dent found are almost non-existent. It is essential that businessmen themselves realize their responsibility and pay their employees according to basic minimum standard. A satisfied employee is an asset to a business house,

If businessmen discharge their responsibility towards the society sincerely, it will improve the social climate of the country and the business community will also be greatly benefited. Business­men are customers also. If they preserve the interests of their custo­mers, in a sense, they help to preserve their own interests. If they voluntarily assume their social responsibilities, it will reduce the pressure for and incidence of state regulations and they will be equally benefited.

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