An agenda for the nation: Streamline business cycle; unleash entrepreneurial enthusiasm

We must also insulate enterprises from pressure and extortion by local power elites, which adversely distorts factory pricing and ultimately adds a burden to the consumer price. This will also enable enterprises to maintain healthy returns within the fixed MRP system, especially for FMCG

Representational Photo

In my view the election manifestos of various political parties ahead of a momentous general election in India have failed to provide a roadmap for solving certain pressing economic issues necessary to unleash entrepreneurial enthusiasm required to increase our growth rate sufficiently to achieve declared goals. The first of these is to ease the creation of businesses. The process of starting a business including getting trade licence, registering name, model Articles of Association and filing the applications and making payment for them must become entirely automated and free of human intervention or interface, which is the leading cause for current tardiness and corruption in the system. 

If companies can be started in less than one day in Singapore, UAE and even some African countries, why should it take nine months in an IT superpower like India? We need to make it possible for our people to initiate an enterprise whenever they wish and close it down in like manner, 

Secondly, the school curriculum must include business studies from Class 8, so that a school/college graduate has enough capability to start up and manage a small enterprise at any stage of higher education. Business Studies must be a compulsory credit-earning module in undergraduate courses. The acquisition of business and financial literacy will encourage most youth towards self employment & risk-taking,generate more goods and services, provide revenue and encourage long term capital formation for investment. The process of GST return filing and delivery of refunds must also become paperless and automated. 

Capital formation is the second major issue. At present the household and corporate savings rate is reducing steadily because of inflation. Also, owing to legal and administrative compliance issues, many middle and higher class people are preferring to park their savings in long-term passive growth instruments such as jewellery, precious metals and real estate, rather than endure the hassles of operating a business, which is often subject to petty extortion and intrusive and disruptive government oversight systems, which also leads to corruption and adds to business cost. As a result, most people fear to initiate an enterprise.

Encourage female population

The nation must also encourage its female population to enter the workforce by ensuring workplace safety and avoidance of gender discrimination. Training facilities must be provided on a large scale to skill people for work at home and abroad. Skilled worker migration should be encouraged by creating temporary hostel facilities by migrant employing companies. English fluency and computer literacy is a must for the future economic growth. If both State and Central government can implement these practices within the next year, we will see positive results very soon./

Electricity will be the power of our growth engine. Therefore, creation of far more nuclear power plants-- at least one in each state-- as well as tapping fully the hydropower potential of Nepal and Bhutan, in addition to widespread use of solar and wind energy is essential to power our transportation system without adding to environmental pollution. Large public transport system such as trains and buses should have roofs made of solar panels and wind turbines to generate power on the go. All locomotion systems should be hybrid to avoid breakdowns for lack of fuel. All residential housing must compulsorily install renewable systems to go off-grid as far as possible and feed surplus power to the grid if the nation is to provide free electricity sustainably to its BPL population. The manufacturing, installing and servicing ecosystem this requires will generate employment by the million. Energy self sufficiency must be our most urgent objective in these increasingly troubled times.// 

The Central and State governments have invested in a huge amount of necessary public infrastructure in the last ten years. This infrastructure must be used optimally to increase national productivity and generate adequate returns to reinvest in its maintenance as well as create more. For example our schools are used mostly in daylight hours. If equipped with renewable energy, they could be used to provide adult education and training.

Improve village infrastructure

Finally, ensuring mobility of skilled labour and an unemployment benefit system will make business feel free to optimise their workforce as required. We must also ensure that labour receives a living wage, provident fund and pension & healthcare benefits. 

We must also insulate enterprises from pressure and extortion by local power elites, which adversely distorts factory pricing and ultimately adds the burden to the consumer price. This will also enable enterprises to maintain healthy returns within the fixed MRP system, especially for FMCG. To increase domestic enterprise we also need to increase and diversify marketing and distribution systems, such as the ONDC. MSME owners often find it very difficult to market their wares. The entire business cycle needs to be streamlined to grow demand for enhanced supply. 

We also need to create manufacturing and service enterprises in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities to reduce youth migration to Tier 1 cities which are bursting at the seams. We should also upgrade village infrastructure to urban levels of municipal services, to make it attractive for villagers to upgrade their housing, give rooms to rent and begin agro and eco-tourism activities to augment their incomes. Since 99 percent of the Indian population falls below the threshold of direct taxes; additional revenue for development must come from consumption. That requires a safety net to catch people rendered obsolete by advancing technology. 

We must use our demographic dividend to spread ourselves worldwide and increase the importance of our voice in global affairs. That can only come from increasing our education, capacity, productivity, foresight and internal strength within our diversity

(The writer is a retired Indian ambassador. Views are personal. He can be reached at

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