Prime Minister Narendra Modi is one of the most business-friendly Prime Ministers of Independent India. He has been very gung-ho about entrepreneurs right from his days as Gujarat Chief Minister.
Here are some of the reasons why Modi has ensured that entrepreneurship has grown in India and he will continue to do so…
The Gujjubhai business brain: There is an apocryphal story that hundreds of years ago, Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama followed a Gujarati trader to discover a sea route to India.
Whatever be the truth of this story, it does symbolize the historic initiative of the traders and merchants of Gujarat. Even today Gujarat is the land of the entrepreneur. Jamsetji Tata in the nineteenth century to Dhirubhai Ambani in the twentieth century to Gautam Adani’s rapid rise in the twenty-first, they all have Gujarat in common.
Entrepreneurship comes naturally to Gujarat and Modi nurtured it in his Gujarat days. Modi took over the State in 2001. He launched Vibrant Gujarat in 2003 where MoUs were signed for an investment for US$14 billion.
That number rapidly rose to US$462 billion in 2011. His critics say that only a fraction of that fructifies. But even that fraction is miles ahead of other states. Modi was very entrepreneur friendly in Gujarat and he’s rapidly replicating the same model for India.
Modi himself could be called an entrepreneur. While his selling tea on a railway platform is romanticized, his father had a tea stall at that time. Later Modi and his brother themselves set up a tea stall near a bus stand.
Minimum Government Maximum Governance: While support from the government is one thing, the entrepreneur many a times just wants as little interference as possible. It may be possible to start a company in no time in many Western countries, but in India one may struggle for months on end without making any headway. The current government is trying to boost entrepreneurs by allowing a business to be incorporated with just one form. Called Form INC-29, the government is trying to enable fast track company registration. The application process for things like the Industrial Entrepreneur’s Memorandum has also been simplified.
The country’s License Raj from 1947 onwards stifled the entrepreneurial spirit and at that time only the first and last Indian Governor-General C Rajagopalachari cried foul. That system was dismantled by Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao from 1991 onwards, but not fully.
Modi seems to have started from where Rao left off. In fact the Planning Commission was seen part and parcel of the old regime and Modi has done away with that too for a more dynamic real-time planning which will help the fast-changing business landscape of India.
Myriad of targeted schemes: Startup India began with Rs 10,000 crore of funds and a sincere effort to reduce red tape for startups with even the Reserve Bank of India getting involved. Interestingly 5 lakh schools will be targeted for innovation programmes. Catch the entrepreneurs young is the mantra.
Make In India will help established business ramp up and new businesses to break out. Stand Up India involves loans of up to Rs 1 crore to those from the SC/ST bracket and women entrepreneurs.
The formation of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship was an innovative concept. Skill India aims to train 40 crore people in various skills by 2022. This involves a National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship among other things.
Former US Secretary of State John Kerry once said that he was particularly impressed with Modi’s slogan of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas. These are some of the components of that concept.
The GST push: For anyone wanting to start their business and immediately go pan-India, GST Goods and Services Tax Bill is a great boon. It proposes a national Value Added Tax and promises to lead to seamless transactions across States and lessening of harassment. The Octroi Raj may finally end.
Modi pushed GST with all his might despite all the opposition and Parliamentary disruptions. Modi has shown a willingness to push for anything he feels will ease business in the country and that will translate into great gains in the long run.
The main takeaway from this is that it’s not just GST, but you can be sure that Modi will push similar bills beneficial for entrepreneurs in the future. While there may be a lot of initial confusion vis-à-vis the GST, it will ultimately settle down to something really good.
Modi is a globe trotter: #Brexit and US President Donald Trump may have made globalization a dirty word, but it will continue in one form or another. In fact now one-on-one deals between countries will be more important than trade pacts.
That’s where Modi’s globe-trotting and chemistry between world leaders will be a real boon. Modi is making the world take notice of us. For the first time ever, India has emerged as the Number 1 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destination in the world. India attracted FDI to the tune of $63 billion in 2015.
While there are mixed feelings about FDI helping or hindering local business, it may prove beneficial to start ups if handled correctly and they may get foreign investors and tie-ups. Though there are plenty of riders, nevertheless the government has allowed 100% FDI in the e-commerce space.
While we may see many ups and downs, the world is flat and in the long run Modi’s globalization drive will help new businesses coming out of India.
© Sunil Rajguru