'If you want Aatma Nirbhar, your policies should favour self-reliance, but your policies do not help the idea.'
'How are we going to be self-reliant if you make things difficult for us?'
"The prime minister wants big results from entrepreneurs, but how can they give results when they are tied down?" K Ilango, former chairman, CII, Coimbatore region, and former president of the Coimbatore District Small Industries Association, asks Shobha Warrier/Rediff.com in the concluding segment of a must-read interview.
More than lack of demand, are bureaucratic hurdles hurting industry badly?
Both. From the last slowdown itself, we have been telling the government they were making it more bureaucratic. But they are continuing to make it even more difficult for businesses by introducing more and more hurdles.
An entrepreneur should be free from all shackles.
You can't be holding them tight, and then hoping them to deliver.
It will not happen. You can't tie their legs and ask them to compete in a sprint.
The prime minister wants big results from entrepreneurs, but how can they give results when they are tied down?
You talk about Make in India, Made in India, Aatma Nirbhar Bharat, etc. How will all these happen if you tie the hands and legs of entrepreneurs?
If you put hurdles in the middle of the race, it will not be a sprint.
If you want entrepreneurs to sprint, remove all the hurdles.
The growth you are talking about post-pandemic -- whether it is in the automotive sector or any other sector -- will not cross 5% if this is the way you are going to treat businesses.
When it becomes normal, growth will always come back because we are a huge country, and there will be demand for goods if not in the last quarter of this year, demand will come in the first quarter of next year.
Is that enough?
It is definitely not enough.
For a country of our size, we need to grow at 8% like China did for many years.
If we cannot show any growth in the quarter starting January, we need to do serious introspection.
Should the government go in for reforms aggressively?
The whole world knows that we have to reform.
Unfortunately, we are in the reverse reform process.
The tax collection at source, I told you about, is the reverse of the reform process.
They take two steps forward and two steps backward.
They are more into slogans, and slogans and actions do not match.
Slogans alone will not get you results; what you need are right policies.
If you want Aatma Nirbhar, your policies should favour self-reliance, but your policies do not help the idea.
How are we going to be self-reliant if you make things difficult for us?
Every entrepreneur says that even today he has to fill thousands of forms to start a business, and that ease of doing business is an illusion in India.
Is that the biggest hurdle to achieving Aatma Nirbhar Bharat?
That's exactly what I have been saying all these years.
The only mantra you need for growth is ease of doing business.
But instead of loosening up, you are going on tightening things.
It is not only the finance department, but in all the other departments too like environment, electricity, commerce, they are coming out with new procedures and policies which are making things extremely difficult for entrepreneurs.
I can come out with half a dozen examples of new laws that have badly affected businesses which this government has come out in the last 3-4 years.
Those laws have no reason, no real material value except harassing entrepreneurs.
What is happening is the opposite of ease of doing business.
Both bureaucracy and red-tapism are increasing day by day, and not reducing.
This is one of the reasons why industry is finding it difficult to function and new entrepreneurs coming up.
I have been in business for 35 years and I find that the entry barriers for new entrepreneurs are very high today.
But the government is wooing companies that want to move away from China. Will they opt to come to India?
Some people may still come as India is a huge market. But not everybody.
For example, when we need 100 companies to invest in India, some 25 to 30 may come.
It is because there is no ease of doing business here. Many of them may prefer to go to Vietnam or Turkey.
The question is, whether we will be able to capitalise on the current sentiment against China.