The Licence Raj or Permit Raj was the elaborate system of licences, regulations and accompanying red tape that were required to set up and run businesses in India between 1947 and 1990.

The term plays off “British Raj”, the period of British rule in India. It was coined by Indian statesman Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari, who firmly opposed it for its potential for political corruption and economic stagnation and founded the Swatantra Party to oppose these practices.

In his newspaper, Rajagopalachari wrote:

“I want the corruptions of the Permit/Licence Raj to go. […] I want the officials appointed to administer laws and policies to be free from pressures of the bosses of the ruling party, and gradually restored back to the standards of fearless honesty which they once maintained. […] I want real equal opportunities for all and no private monopolies created by the Permit/Licence Raj.”