States must do their part in ease of doing business: Baru

States must do their part in ease of doing business: Baru
Highlights

FICCI secretary general and noted economist Sanjaya Baru believes that events like the Global Entrepreneurship Summit presently underway in Hyderabad would greatly enhance the possibility of more women coming into the realm of enterprise. This will happen as such events showcase icons who would remain a source of inspiration for others.

Hyderabad: FICCI secretary general and noted economist Sanjaya Baru believes that events like the Global Entrepreneurship Summit presently underway in Hyderabad would greatly enhance the possibility of more women coming into the realm of enterprise. This will happen as such events showcase icons who would remain a source of inspiration for others.

Baru, who was media-advisor to former prime minister Manmohan Singh, says there is a perceptible change for the better in economic empowerment of women. Though the number may not be very big when compared to the situation about two decades ago, the outcome is quite encouraging now, indicating a transformational change, he says in an interview with The Hans India.

Excerpts:

Would summits like the GES serve any purpose in firing the nation’s economy?
They surely do; not for just for the state of Telangana, but for the entire country. In fact, Hyderabad is now the focus of the entire nation as it is emerging as an innovation hub. It is surpassing cities like Bangalore which used to occupy the pride of place for the best ecosystems available for industries to flourish. I believe Hyderabad is the most appropriate place for summits of this genre.

The development in Hyderabad is in sync with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for building new enterprise. For the last few years, we have been seeing how the Prime Minister has been laying stress on startups and skill development. The idea is that new blood must come into enterprise so that the sector gets a new lease of life. It was heartening to see several young people attending the summit.

The focus of the inaugural day was empowerment of women. But would a summit of this nature bring about a transformation in the status of women and make them successful entrepreneurs without someone helping them out?
The situation is changing slowly. In the last 20 years, we have seen increasing participation of women in economic activity. It has contributed to financial and social empowerment of women. In many parts of the country, they are financially independent.

In the area of enterprise, they are emerging in big numbers. Many big businesses are taking a neutral view of women taking leadership roles. In several companies, businesses are handed over to female heirs. For instance, in Godrej, women leadership is coming up. The banking sector is seeing a sea-change with women power rising. I agree with Advisor to US President Ivanka Trump that if the gender gap is reduced by half as far as working women are concerned, India’s economy could grow by US $ 150 billion.

How about women who are confined to homes and unable to come out because of societal pressures. They are very brilliant and sometimes they are much better than men in many areas and, yet they do not come out. The women you are referring to are not even a small percentage of the vast population of this segment which has been left out.

One must recognise that change has begun taking place. Though it is not uniform all over the country, it is happening. Some icons are coming up. They remain a source of inspiration for others. In sports, there are quite many sportswomen who have reached the highest level and have become icons. Now we see more number of girls taking to sports.

As FICCI secretary general, I have showcased young entrepreneurs at the GES. We encourage them to set up their units. Others would get inspiration from them. We need icons. Summits like the GES would help them get publicity, which would help in motivating others. They would get enough courage to challenge the traditional prejudices.

The basic requirement for an enterprise is availability of employable youth. But they are few, since most of the do not have access to quality education. When it comes to women, as education becomes expensive, they are made to sit at home. Don’t you think more investment should go into education and the government should step in and subsidise quality education for more number of youths, particularly women, to go in for higher reduction.

For ending unemployment problem, we need to have a vast number of skill upgradation centres. This is where investment should go, and, at the same time, more and more scholarships should be made available for them. There is a change in attitude of women in some parts of the country.

They are coming out, despite problems and do not mind where they go if there is a job for them. In the North East, young women are coming out and are working in the service sector. In big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore, women from the North East are seen working. The average might be low, but the differential – the delta factor - is encouraging.

Do you think the ecosystem for the growth of industry is good at present in India?
Efforts must made for improvement in this area. The Telangana state is focused on it. I am impressed with Industries Minister KT Rama Rao’s work. He understands the issues. The State government is lending active support for the growth of the enterprise. Yet, doing business in India is not yet easy. We are at the 100th position in ease of doing business. There are still controls and regulations, procedural problems, and too many inspectors at too many places. These are real barriers.

The Centre does not seem to be playing its part to take forward the ease of doing business and provide the right environment for the industry to grow. I do not agree with the view that these days the Centre is not playing any big role. It is the states which must provide the right conditions for the industry to flourish. After the then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao did away with the ‘license raj’, India has come a long way.

A businessman does not have to go to Delhi to obtain approvals which used to be the case in the past. Except for extending financial support to institutions and taking care of infrastructure at a macro level, the Centre does not have much role any more. Business would go to where it is convenient for it to grow. That is the reason why industries are doing better in south and west and languishing in the rest of the country due to several issues like unfriendly industrial policies and law & order issues.

By R Prithvi Raj

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