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Who’s Calling the Shots in India’s Business Economy?

As an agricultural intensive economy, India have come a long way to build bridges towards institutional setups, an extremely well- organized service sector, a burgeoning startup ecosystem, a balanced private & state owned market and of course the IT industry

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma

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As an agricultural intensive economy, India have come a long way to build bridges towards institutional setups, an extremely well- organized service sector, a burgeoning startup ecosystem, a balanced private & state owned market and of course the IT industry.

Nonetheless, we have bigger challenges to follow up on like re-looking the FDI norms, thinking export markets for Indian products/services, making cluster innovation more inclusive and supporting entrepreneurs with GST since this government is more focused than anyone else on ‘easing the way to do business in India’.

This morning at a panel discussion at Taj Palace, New Delhi eminent speakers came forward for presenting their views on ‘Enhancing India’s Competitiveness’. Moderated by Supriya Shrinate, Executive Editor-News, ET Now. The discussion called upon Ganesh Natrajan, President, HBS Club of India & Chairman 5F World; Ajay Mehra, Managing Director, Airbus; Krish Iyer, President & CEO, Walmart India; Srivatsa Krishna, IAS, Chief Executive & Secretary, Coffee Board, Ministry of Commerce, GOI; Siraj Chaudhry, Country Head, CEO, Cargill Foods India Pvt. Ltd.

The first question put up by the moderator Supriya Shrinate was, “What can India do at the level of Indian States, for increasing the knowledge infrastructure, if we talk beyond the enhancing the physical infrastructure?”

Ganesh Natrajan replied to this, “We have lot to build in India in terms of knowledge economy, as that I believe is the soil we need to start the processes of innovation and germination. If schools, colleges, universities cannot turn our students and youth into thinking minds, the employability gets radically affected. India is also facing a jobless growth as we know, the new- age automation, robotics and online stores are increasingly becoming very independent of human touch.”

Even if we talk about innovation in the real sense, Ajay Mehra, Managing Director, Airbus also shared the view that the startups in India are chasing the valuation based growth story. He said, “India is full of entrepreneurs and people who’d like to do things differently but there is a mix bag of individuals; some are trodding the long route of doing business with focus at profits and the others are chasing high-flyer dreams which come with having an investor backing you. Selling at a lower GMV with a high negative profit is their way of looking at competition. I feel such business are unsustainable in their own self.”

Supriya then prompted another query, “If there is paucity of funds as we are seeing in the Startup ecosystem, where is the growth story coming from?”

Siraj Chaudhry, Country Head, CEO, Cargill Foods India on this said, “Yes, this is true that the mood of the PE/VC’s is changing The previous year was much more successful financially in terms of exits from firms and the number of investments bagged by companies. India ranks number three on the world map when we count after Silicon Valley and Israel. The truth is despite India shining growth story, investors are not ready to fund Indian startups with the kind of enthusiasm it was predicted to.”

Srivatsa Krishna, IAS, Chief Executive and Secretary, Coffee Board, Ministry of Commerce also added, “I am not saying I know the reason why but one of it might be demonetisation and the unpredictability of the Indian economy. And I also feel the Startup India Standup India has been an over-hyped drive which has not many promises to sustain with its big idea.”

In the end Krish Iyer, President and CEO, Walmart India, spoke about who’s calling the shots in the Indian ecosystem. He said, “Traditionally, the startup space is being driven by technology startups, be it in the convenience arena, transportation or agriculture. But now I feel, India should develop itself with a competitive advantage it has always lived with- i.e. ‘Agricultural edge’. Indian youth can be taught innovative farming methods which can help them live prosperously with their primary occupation of farming and generate employment for themselves and others. It’s going to solve many problems in one go including enhancing the overall value chain .”


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