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'India Growing At 10% In 3 Years Is Achievable'

In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Shobana Kamineni, who is the first woman President of CII, shares her candid views on the implementation of the GST, farm loans and job creation in the country

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Industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) announced the appointment of Shobana Kamineni, the executive vice-chairperson of Apollo Hospitals Enterprises Ltd, as the new President for the year 2017-18 on April 30.

Kamineni believes the key to using women workforce to increase gross domestic product (GDP) is gender parity at all levels. After taking up her new role as CII chief, Kamineni talks about her take on the GST, farm loans and what CII is doing for the so called ‘ Aam Admi’ of the country.

In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld’s Taniya Tikoo and Kshitiz Mohan, Kamineni says that the target to increase the GDP to 10 per cent is achievable and a lot of jobs can be created in the organised and the un-organised sector in the country. And skill training and development of the workforce can contribute a great deal in doing so. Edited excerpts:

With an ambitious target to reach 10 per cent growth in GDP in the next three years, what are the number of jobs that will be created in India? Which sector will witness the most job growth due to increase in GDP?

We have a three year horizon on that. The number one sector that I enumerated yesterday was the construction sector, if you see country after country that is the sector that provides less skills and enough paying jobs. As you move up the value chain it would be retail, logistics, e commerce, tourism and healthcare. In fact to my surprise to see beauty and wellness. These sectors will provide large number of jobs across the country.

Now from care jobs we move to content, social media, language specific. There will be a large number of jobs created in those areas. These are the unorganized sector jobs but will have job creation. Basically where we get better skilling. So while we think there are a lot of opportunities for jobs, it won’t happen if we don’t have the talent to put into place. We need to build capacity.

We talk about investments from other countries, why are the Indian private players hesitant from investing in their own country?
The fundamental reason is that the private players have built huge capacities. I sit on the board of Hero and they have plants in Rajasthan, Gujarat which will actually afford two to three times more so most of them have pre invested. Even from 2017 onwards the investment and capacity building was huge. Then some amount of muted growth happened. Now it is all picking up, you will see the capacities closing. So this fresh investment will start happening and you will see a rise in the growth.

You said that “participation of women in the work force will lead to an increased GDP, What is CII strategy to achieve this?
It is mandated by the government to have women in top leadership roles but how far that is happening is the question. You have to see where is the crop coming from, it won’t grow on its own. Forget the top boards, look at the financial sector, how is it that there as many woman leaders as men, because for years we have had women in banking, because for years it was a safe profession for , if you had a daughter put her in a bank. Thus the financial sector had a huge pool and that’s they could grow. So you need the same generational shifts to happen when it comes to manufacturing. Now you will see so many women engineers, doctors, MBAs and this pool will rise. And this is all happening I am not too worried about that, I am more worried about what is there for the average woman. What is her quality of work, how is she incentivized.

What CII is doing through the women’s network is to try and engage with them, encourage companies for parity of pay. Getting to the top is secondary what a big concern her is the gender parity. How do we get them to become relevant and participate, that’s the thing that the parity of CII looks out for. We have been working with Google, HUL, SBI to give these women financial exclusion. There always have been a lot of models to help these women, but we are trying to bring it to scale. The government is also aligned with that.

Why do Industry bodies have this anti-aam aadmi image? There are talks about the CII and other bodies not doing a lot for the common people.

Our theme has changed as you can’t be a wealth creator without being inclusive and responsible. Industries today are way more bothered about environment and CSR. Now we engage way more proactively because we believe, ‘business can’t be at the cost of the world’, that’s why I spoke about being inclusive and responsible.

We are encouraging new people to get into business. Most of the people that work with us are ‘Startupreneurs’. We have a new sector of young Indians and women networks. If anybody can be inclusive, it’s the CII. CII is a development institution, we are not lobbyist, we look for development. 

Apart from CSR, how can an industry body like CII contribute to the social cause?

We have skills and training institutes. CII has contributed to the social cause in the past and will keep on doing it. We have an institute for it in most of the states, and most of the success have come from the skilling and training. That’s for the future of India. 

What your take on the taxing of the farm income? Is there a concern among the political class to tax them?

Around 86 per cent of the farmers make less than 5 lakh, which is the taxable income and have less than 2 hectares of land. They will be untouched by that law. Keep it in interest of parity and only tax a farmer if he is making more than Rs 10 lakh per year and can afford to pay tax. 

What do you think about waving of the farm loans? Is this the right step?

It is never the right step. It puts a lot of pressure on the government and the banks. The banks won’t reduce the interest rates and remove liquidity. So, fundamentally it is not the right principle. I am sure there are other ways to support farmers, like the Insurances. But it is important to provide as there are a lot of vulnerabilities.

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