Issues needing urgent attention of new Government – from BBG Chennai Chairman

With massive majority BJP is in position to push through raft of measures to clear out old and archaic red tape stifling business and enterprise and entrepreneurship.

Despite all liberalization over 20 years, for India’s administrative system of the IAS and babus in Delhi and the states, guidelines and legal frame-work not revised at all leading to contradictions and misrepresentations. All relevant regulations need complete over-haul.

India’s legal system that permits the entire machinery to creak along delaying justice, thereby denying justice – entire system reeks of not just inefficiency, but shabby and bad practice. BJP can make a start addressing this in what will be a very long process, neglected by all Governments to date.

For all foreigners investing in India and operating in country, India remains the 136th most difficult place to do business (on list of 187 countries). If this new Government is to welcome new and increased investments, they will need to get India to be more business friendly – we must be pulled up into top 25 or 30 countries. Also change attitude of not looking at all business people and foreigners with jaundiced suspicious eyes.

There is little need to re-invent wheel or use excuse of “security” criteria for country to open up defense manufacturing in most basic of areas. Again in retail sector, UK retailers are world class – the likes of Tesco/ John Lewis and others may be allowed to enter market raising consumer expectations and quality.

The UK is a massive repertoire of skill-sets to be drawn upon in all critical areas of India’s economy and structure:

infrastructure projects
water management
power generation & national grid

India now operates well with huge Japanese collaboration in the industrial corridor of Delhi – Mumbai. UK belatedly in 2013 offered assistance on Mumbai- Bangalore corridor. Government needs to take these up with both hands and get started

City metros and new airports have changed look and efficiency of places like Delhi and Kolkata. Yet we need to address, on policy basis, decisions to let private operators handle projects instead of inept Government departments – AAI’s dismal handling of Chennai airport Vs Bangalore’s impressive privately built one is a good example. Or look at private one in Kochi’s – well operated! Government needs to now give up things they have done so badly for decades!

On smaller issues which affect all foreigners, the following areas can be examined and dealt with pretty easily:

Foreigners’ Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) are very poorly run and managed – process which should happen in a morning, ends up in 3 and 4 days of frustration with changes of regulations (not well notified) and 2-3-4 visits

Customs Departments in ports can take 2-3 weeks in clearing urgently required equipment / machinery: should happen in 2 or 3 days, not weeks

Bad power supply country-wide leads to 100s of hours of production losses, aside from spiking leading to added costs on stabilisers / equipment

Event risks for investors very high such as agitations over recent Andhra / Telengana split leading to huge investments lost to both these states. Existing businesses lost hugely also from the spill-overs of troubles making all businesses wary

While there is a renewed sense of fresh-ness and optimism, this must be capitalised and very quickly. Bold reforms in insurance and defense can increase trade with all major foreign countries – could be in order of US$500 billion in next 5 years. Infrastructure sector can spawn investment of same size and period – that is a massive trillion US Dollars

India’s manufacturing sector which remains largely small enterprises must get attention and support to scale up and change to turn around country as a whole – seek assistance from countries who have already done so! (eg: Germany)

The power of India’s service sector still vests with huge IT /ITeS and BPOs like TCS / Infosys/ Wipro but they themselves need to evolve and mutate into undertaking “original” creative work. None of these huge companies have broken out of set-piece jobbing to create genuine new technology. In this challenge, they ought to work with innovative and creative people and companies in UK which still is perhaps the most inventive place on earth.
Christie Cherian – Chairman, BBG Chennai