India’s goal of AtmaNirbhar (self-reliance) can be achieved when industry leaders fully utilize the business environment created by the government. Today, together with structural reforms in agriculture and labour sectors, the offer of special economic and comprehensive packages by the government has facilitated a positive environment and business community needs to capitalize on it.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphatically said this in his keynote address at ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce) Foundation Week 2020 last weekend. Addressing the virtual meeting, of one of India’s apex trade associations, Prime Minister Modi said the country today is with entrepreneurs and wealth creators and they have complete freedom to touch the sky.
However, wealth creation is possible when industry brings in reforms by including women and young talent and when it adopts best practices of the world by bringing corporate governance and profit sharing mechanisms into its work culture.
The Prime Minister also presented to TATA Group Chairman Ratan Tata the ‘ASSOCHAM Enterprise of the Century Award.’ Obviously, this move was just symbolism and but quite significant as it showed India standing with its industrialists and businessmen for the sake of wealth as well as job creation purposes.
In his speech, Prime Minister M odi emphasized India’s attractiveness for investment from across the world on account of bold reforms. He said even during the pandemic, when the whole world struggled for investments, India has been able to lure in record Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI). Between April and September, the FDI into the country rose 13 percent year-on-year to $40 billion. The government’s support to the manufacturing sector and optimism for India’s growth story are cited as some of the significant reasons behind such flows of FDI into India.
However, amidst this lies some bitter facts; investment in Research & Development by Indian industry is lagging in comparison to America where 70 percent of the total investment on R&D is from the private sector alone.
The Prime Minister expressed his disappointment over such a sordid state of investment in R&D in the country. He asked industry leaders to increase their investments in R&D especially in sectors like agriculture, defence, space, energy, construction, pharmaceuticals and transport sector.
In fact, it is through R&D, that a business can innovate and adopt new technologies as well as improve existing processes in order to succeed in the long run. It is said that a sector that invests more in R&D, develops and achieves more and provides real-world benefits to the people. Keeping this in view, Prime Minister maintained that all companies should earmark a certain amount for R&D.
It must be remembered that increased investment in R&D is the need of the hour, as the world is moving rapidly towards the fourth industrial revolution, where challenges will emerge in the form of new technologies.
Perhaps, this was the reason why Prime Minister Modi in his speech highlighted that today is the time to plan and act. He was of the view that 27 years later when Independent India will celebrate its centenary, every Indian’s dream and dedication would be tested and the country’s global role will be closely assessed.
As such he exhorted Indian industry to show its capability, commitment and courage. He rightly maintained that achieving self-reliance is not only important but rather how soon the country achieves this goal is also very important.
In order to bridge the rural-urban divide, Mr. Modi stressed on the need for the Government to work together with State Governments, farm organizations and industry associations for better promotion of the country’s organic farm products, better infrastructure and better market.
Prime Minister said he wants India’s growth story to become an example for the world. But then, he made it clear that the Government can provide the necessary facilities, create the right environment, give incentives and bring change in policies. However, it is industry partners who can convert this support into success.
Script: Shankar Kumar, Senior Journalist