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PM Modi Has Put India On The World Economic Map

Sandeep Aggarwal, Founder and CEO of Droom, a marketplace to buy and sell used cars, shares his views on how the Narendra Modi government has impacted the startup ecosystem in the country in the last 2 years and what more can be done

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Sandeep Aggarwal, Founder and CEO of Droom, a marketplace to buy and sell used cars, shares his views on how the Narendra Modi government has impacted the startup ecosystem in the country in the last 2 years and what more can be done. Founded in April 2014 in Silicon Valley, Droom is a startup that came to Gurgaon in 2015, and is funded by some leading global venture investors. Excerpts:

Has the Modi government in general been able to live up to the slogan of "Achhe Din"?
In my view answer is a strong yes. The Modi government has gotten back attention of investors to India, made economic agenda as the top priority for the nation and started support for Digital India and Start Up. Under Modi’s regime, India is being viewed as an economic tiger in making which is yet to achieve its potential. The performance of the $2 trillion-economy is being keenly observed by the world.

The state governments are in sync with the central government to a large level and have launched several reforms and changes that have made it easier to do business in India than ever before. The present growth rate and the momentum also make India one of the fastest growing large economy in the world.

How has Modi's Digital India programme impacted your industry in the last 2 years?

It has done well from the perspective of the government making it a priority and symbolically doing this for a Digital India. There are however, tons of things which need to be done to make capital affordable and accessible followed by removal of redundant taxes to companies listing themselves on Nasdaq.

IT-BPM industry constitutes 8.1 per cent of India’s GDP, adding about $115 billion to $120 billion to the Indian economy. The government now allows 100 per cent FDI under the automatic approval route in and various IT-BPM sub-segments including software development, testing, consultancy, research and analysis services. The government has received proposals worth $1,716 billion from various companies since the launch of the Make in India initiative.

For internet highways, which is the need of the hour for the industry, the government also launched the Digital India initiative, and committed an investment of $70.2 billion to provide telephony and fast internet.

What are some of the key IT-related initiatives that have proven to be a boon for the IT/digital payments sector in India?

Payment wallet and payment banks are supporting financial inclusions. While the PM himself has time and again proved to be extremely tech-savvy, be it his selfies or a super active Twitter account, he has also launched several technology intensive initiatives giving the IT sector in India much to cheer about. We list down some key tech initiatives of the Modi government and track their progress. In his maiden speech at the Red Fort, Narendra Modi emphasized on the importance of technology for bridging the rural-urban divide.

He harped on connectivity and creating "Broadband Highways" of 6 lakh kilometres across the country. One of Modi's pet projects, Digital India aims at providing digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen as well as high-speed internet as a core utility in all gram panchayats. An overall sum of Rs 2,510 crore had been set aside in the budget for 2015-16 under the head "Digital India Programme and Telecommunications and Electronic Industries". Digital India is a Rs 1.13-lakh crore government initiative that seeks to transform the country into a connected economy.

How do you think Modi's Startup India initiative has benefited the startup ecosystem in the country? Do you think the provisions in the Startup Action Plan meet the requirements of the ecosystem?
Startup India is a flagship initiative of the government of India, intended to build a strong ecosystem for startups in the country. This will drive sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities. The government, through this initiative aims to empower startups to grow through innovation and design. On the legal support, government has provided support for filing patents at free of cost and 80 per cent reduction in filing patent fee. This action would bring out the confidence among the entrepreneurs to startup with hassle free process.

The relaxation of the financial and labour norms is a great step towards making things simpler for young startups so they can focus on innovation without getting entangled in some of these norms that are more applicable to larger entities. I am extremely excited about the Atal Innovation Mission, this will help foster innovation at a grass root level among students in schools and colleges, which will in turn encourage more youngsters to enter the field of entrepreneurship and innovate and create some ground breaking products that, will be used by people around the world. India is already a leading startup hub.

Over the past few years, the startup ecosystem has witnessed exponential growth within the country. With prime minister Narendra Modi’s direct involvement in promoting startups with ‘Start-up India Stand up India’ initiative, we can expect a positive impact on the ecosystem as well as the economy.

What more should be done by the Modi government in the next few years?
The government should liberalize listing rules, relax capital gains and divide tax, make cost of capital for startup very low and make startup industry less regulatory. On the knowledge and skill enhancement side, our leaders should create MIT and Stanford standard education establishments across the country. Open access to broadband highways would facilitate trade across the country giving boost to e-commerce which is projected to cross $80 billion by 2020 and $300 billion by 2030.

With all this, we also expect last mile internet connectivity giving access to government services and development of IT skills, provision of broadband internet access to 250,000 village clusters by 2019. Digital inclusion to target job creation for approximately 1.7 crore people trained in IT, telecom and electronics, must be focussed on.