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If Govt. canít protect lives, it should go
By Dev Chatterjee

Which kind of govt allows killings of women, children?...Home Minister, even the Prime Minister should take their share of blame: HDFC chairman 

MUMBAI, MARCH 28 (IE): The chairman of India's leading housing finance firm, HDFC, Deepak Parekh, isn't known for losing his cool. But today he's bitter and angry, not at the economic downturn or a bad budget or falling interest rates which mean bad news for his company. But because of Gujarat and the way the government both at the state and the Centre have handled the violence.

What is a government elected for? asks Parekh, speaking exclusively to The Indian Express. If they cant protect innocent lives... then they should go. Which kind of government allows the killing of women and children?

Incidentally, Parekh had been entrusted with several key responsibilities in the past by successive governments including devising a restructuring plan for UTI. Today, as the first corporate leader to speak his mind on the carnage in Gujarat, Parekh says the Central government must be blamed equally for letting the situation go out of hand.

With due respect, I think the Home Minister and even the Prime Minister should take their share of blame. Itís a national failure, he says.Everyone knows Godhra is a volatile city. The carnage had tell-tale signs of external links. The state government should have investigated those involved instead of letting VHP go out of hand. They could have taken help from international investigating agencies instead of killing innoncent people, he says.

The carnage after Godhra has hit business sentiments badly, he says. In fact, he says he's witnessing first-person how badly the Gujarat riots have hit India's largest business community the Gujaratis.

Hopping from one board meeting to another, he is only getting bad news. Can you believe that sales of many manufacturing companies have collapsed in Gujarat in the crucial fiscal-end month of March due to riots?

Over the last 25 years Parekh made a financial powerhouse of HDFC offering home loans, to insurance and mutual funds and roped in international partners like Standard Life. Today, he's not sure what the future holds. As very few people are coming out due to curfew, our home loans and other businesses are obviously hit, Parekh says.

I belong to Gujarat. I've lived there and it pains me to read in international as well as our papers that Gujaratis are barbaric and indulging in genocide.

Riots have damaged India's reputation more in the international forum than what is happening in Pakistan. Do we need to always sabotage our own chances of growth and international goodwill? Parekh says now its up to corporate India to step out and pitch in.

Indian corporates must come out in re-building Gujarat. The way we have done after Bhuj earthquake. We can open community centres, build burnt-down houses and educate children who have been orphaned. We at HDFC will certainly do our bit, he says.

Among other plans, Parekh prescribes that the non-governmental organisations must be roped in to help minority families re-build their lives. Indians have always been peace-loving people. Itís only due to politics that the nation has been divided. May the doctrine of live and let live prevail, he says.

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