Over nine years in financial journalism, I have specialized in covering news that matters to India Inc. and its stakeholders, including developments at India's largest corporations and and MNCs. The subject of my writing has been analysis of strategy, financial performance, M&A and fundraising activity, consumption behaviour and emerging trends in management and leadership. Industry verticals that I have written on include oil & gas, power, infra, metals & mining, auto, telecom, FMCG & retail, and start-ups. I also play the role of an editorial lead for proprietary events like the Forbes India Leadership Award and the Forbes India CEO Dialogues. An alumnus of Asian College of Journalism, Chennai and Jadavpur University, Kolkata, I have worked for publications such as Mint, The Financial Express and The Indian Express before this.
India is in a phase of radical innovation and disruption that will change the way business is done in the country and the government is committed to playing the role of a facilitator in this process. This was the message Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog, delivered to a packed audience at the Marico Innovation Foundation Awards function held in Mumbai late on Wednesday.
Kant said India is in an age of disruption where traditional business models like brick-and-mortar shops and branch banking are being challenged by new-age, technology-driven ventures. “The ecommerce market is currently $16 billion in India. By 2020, this will be eight times larger and by 2025, the size of the Indian ecommerce industry may touch $400 billion,” Kant said. “Close your eyes and invest in these companies.”
The recently appointed CEO of Niti Aayog, the government’s primary think-tank, is the chief architect of the Narendra Modi-led government’s pet projects such as Make in India, Digital India and Start-up India, all of which aim to make India an attractive destination for foreign and domestic investments, as well as foster entrepreneurship.
By 2030, every Indian will have access to the internet and a smartphone. This will “revolutionise” India and enable millions to emerge above the poverty line, said Kant.
He also elaborated on the various initiatives that the government is taking to enable enterprise in India. The bureaucrat, who is credited with some of the best tourism campaigns that India has run including ‘God’s Own Country’ (when he was tourism secretary of Kerala) and the popular ‘Incredible India’ campaign (when he was a part of the central government), highlighted that when the Delhi-Mumbai and Amritsar-Kolkata dedicated freight corridors are up and running, it will reduce the time taken to transport goods from one end of the country to another to 14 hours, from as much as 14 days earlier.
The freight corridors, another central government project with which Kant has been closely involved, will also spur “innovative urbanisation using technology” along the routes of these rail corridors, which will first manifest itself through the seven new cities that the government has identified to build along the Delhi-Mumbai corridor”. The key to good urbanisation is good monetisation, Kant stated. The government seeks to achieve this by empowering local governing bodies to take decisions on how best they want to monetise these cities and fill their coffers to fund future expansion and citizens’ welfare.
While India’s economy has been growing at a healthy rate of around 7.5 percent, the challenge for India is to grow at a rate of 9-10 percent, according to Kant, and if this happens the per capita income of Indians will rise substantially to $6,988 per person.
The Niti Aayog CEO also commented on the various measures taken by the central government to facilitate ease of doing business in the country. “India had become an extremely complex, difficult and complicated place to do business over the last 68 years,” Kant said. “The laws, procedures and paperwork involved in doing business have to be ruthlessly dismantled to enable entrepreneurs to explore their potential.”
“The earlier mentality has been that every businessman is guilty unless proven innocent. This has to change,” Kant stated.
The government had ranked Indian states last year on the business environment they provide to potential investors and Gujarat had pipped Andhra Pradesh to the top slot in 2015. Kant said that he won’t be surprised if the newly carved out state of Andhra Pradesh under the chief ministership of Chandrababu Naidu becomes the top ranked state this year, since his administration was doing some stellar work to facilitate ease of doing business. Last year, the ranking, which aims to laud states that are doing well to attract investment and also point out the laggards, evaluated states on 100 points. This year, the evaluation will be on 340 points.
To spur entrepreneurship and foster the creation of more startups, Kant said that the government will bring down the time taken to start a new company in India to a single day and will make provisions for an easy exit by entrepreneurs in 90 days, in case their venture fails to take off.