India is said to grow at night while its government sleeps. The quip, beloved of Indian businessmen, is often invoked to rubbish a corrupt and incompetent state and to praise a supposedly heroic entrepreneurial class. But there is something wrong with this picture. In many sectors, Indian entrepreneurs make money not in spite of government interference, but precisely through colluding with a state that provides the land, licences and rent-seeking opportunities on which they thrive.
A number of Vietnamese contacts have persistently made the same point to me here: when it comes to corruption, it takes two to tango.
Many Western businesses are also guilty of double standards, criticising the dominance of the state in the economy, while themselves seeking patronage, licences and rents from the government.