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Aspirational, Inspirational: How Union Budget Can Further Boost Entrepreneurship

Will the Union Budget further push the process of creating wealth creators and entrepreneurs? To create an entrepreneur / wealth creator / job creator is to create multiple employment opportunities. This is an area which needs constant encouragement and push

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Speaking at an industry association event recently, former Niti Aayog CEO and G 20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant said that India needed “10,000 Ambanis and 20,000 Adanis” for it to grow.  He could have added that India also needs hundreds, if not thousands, of Kaivalya Vohras, Aadit Palichas and Neha Narkhedes.

Neha Narkhede’s is an inspiring story. The 37-year-old Pune-born Indian American, who counts Indira Gandhi, Indira Nooyi and Kiran Bedi as her influences, is the co-founder of Confluent, a US-based streaming data technology company. With an estimated wealth of Rs 4700 crore, Narkhede was featured as the “youngest self-made woman entrepreneur” in the IIFL Wealth Hurun India Rich List, 2022.

The process of wealth creation that got a boost with the opening up of India in 1991, has well and truly got democratized now, with many Gen Next leaders riding the Start-up wave, and making it big.

The three decades of post-liberalisation journey of India have been remarkable. There is a growing consensus that governments have no business to be in business. Wealth creation is no longer despised; it is, in fact, an aspirational value. Enterprise is encouraged and respected. New-age entrepreneurs are often treated like rockstars. The policy framework respects and encourages wealth creators even if there remain formidable challenges.

Writing in “The Times of India,” on three decades of economic liberalization, RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani observed: “India transformed from an economy of scarcity in 1991 into an economy of sufficiency in 2021… (With the decision to open up the economy) the government placed the private sector at the commanding heights of the national economy, which the public sector had occupied for the previous four decades. It ended the licence-quota raj, liberalized trade and industrial policies and freed up capital markets and the financial sector. These reforms liberated India’s entrepreneurial energy and inaugurate(d) an era of fast-paced growth”.

Motilal Oswal’s Annual Wealth Creation Study 2022 recently observed that Reliance Industries and Adani Enterprises were the top two wealth creators in the 2017-2022 period, while TCS, Infosys and HDFC Bank were next in the pecking order.

The report said that “Top 100 wealth creators of India Inc generated wealth of Rs 92.2 trillion in the 2017-22 period, the highest ever so far”. The report added that public sector companies’ share in wealth creation during the period “was the worst so far”.

Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani said something interesting at Banaskantha recently. He observed: “I firmly believe that India holds the potential to build 100 Adani groups and there could be no better place than India to be an entrepreneur today”.

The phenomenon to encourage grassroots business leaders with innovative ideas, that began in 1991, got a huge boost with the Start-up revolution -- kick-started in 2016. With 84,000 Start-ups, and with almost half of them in Tier 2 and Tier 3 centres, Start-ups are ticket to stardom – and moolah – for many.

Kaivalya Vohra’s and Aadit Palicha’s Zepto, an online grocery delivery platform, is the quintessential example. The two Stanford dropouts conceptualized Zepto during the Covid pandemic, when they sensed an opportunity in the adversity. Vohra, around 20, is the youngest self-made entrepreneur to have been featured in the Hurun 2022 India Richest List.

The Start-up revolution has made India a talking point, worldwide. Domestically, there’s a near-consensus on the enormous potential that the idea carries. While the unemployment problem is a real one (besides statistics, see, for instance, the turnouts for railway recruitment examinations, or Agniveer tests), it is also true that the Start-up revolution has brought about a mindset change. A good number of Gen Next leaders today explore ways to found their own Start-ups after their formal education. Little wonder then that diverse governments and political streams now stress on creating “job creators”. The new National Education Policy is tailored towards this larger objective.

Yet, there remain many challenges. When India crossed the 100 Unicorn mark in 2022, it was said that “reaching the 1000 unicorn mark by 2030 is achievable”. After a buoyant 2022, however, the pace of Unicorn formation has ebbed. A recent intervention in the Rajya Sabha claimed that “less than 10 per cent Start-ups turn 5 in India”.

The idea to push innovative ideas and grassroots wealth creators, therefore, must be reemphasized.

In his 2019 Independence-Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “… The need of the hour is to recognize and encourage wealth creators of our nation. They should receive more honour. If wealth is not created, wealth cannot be distributed. Further, if wealth is not distributed, we cannot uplift the poor of our society. Such is the importance of wealth creation for our country which we need to facilitate further”.

While the Narendra Modi government remains committed to the Antyodaya philosophy – ensuring that government welfare measures reach the last man in the queue – there’s been a consistent push towards ease of doing business as well.

While the forthcoming Union Budget aims for a road-map to negotiate global headwinds and uncertainties, and aims for growth, fiscal consolidation, job creation and infra push, maybe it should also reiterate its objective to vigorously promote the idea of creating wealth creators and entrepreneurs. Blessed with a demographic dividend, India has set its sights on 2047. As it marches towards a high-income developed economy status, the wealth creator and entrepreneur will play key role.

After having displaced Britain as the fifth-largest economy recently, and India changing gears, while one will have to debate monopolies and duopolies in different sectors, it’s equally true that the democratization of wealth creation has given rise to a new generation of leaders and wealth creators. The forthcoming Union Budget can further give a boost to the phenomenon.

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entrepreneurship Union Budget 2023-24