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186th Foundation Day of Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry

January 13th 2022, Mumbai: Bombay Chambers of Commerce and Industry held its 186th Foundation day virtually with Dr. Rajiv Kunar, Vice president of Niti Aayog, as their Chief Guest and Mr. Ajay Piramal, Chairman of Piramal Group as their keynote speaker. The topic of discussion was how India planned to meet its goal of becoming a 5 trillion dollar economy.

The welcome address was delivered by Ms. Anjali Bansal, President of Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Founder of Avana capital. She touched upon the various events held by the Chamber in 2021. These events were based on sustainability and technology and how big of an impact it has made on the country. Moving on, Mr. Ajay Piramal was called upon to deliver the keynote address.

Mr. Piramal starts by congratulating the Bombay Chamber for surviving more than a century in such a challenging environment. Speaking on India becoming a 5 trillion dollar economy, he says the country is en route to becoming one of the fastest-growing economies despite the setbacks in the pandemic. He suggested that healthcare spendings should be increased. The percentage needs to go up to at least 3% compared to 18% of the US. India has a large scope in the healthcare sector. Another opportunistic sector is pharmaceuticals, where India has the third-largest volume while ranking 13th in Value. Technology and Startups are also sectors that will help contribute towards India’s 5 trillion goals, backed by government spendings and support.

Ms. Anjali started with several questions related to the theme of the event. The first question was based on how business can operate on the motto of “Sabka saat, sabka vikaas.” To which, Mr. Piramal answered that “We believe our purpose is to do well and do good. For a CSR to survive, it is important to make profits, but the bigger point will be survival by putting the profits to the benefit of stakeholders and society. The methods followed by other countries cannot solve the challenges that India face India needs innovation. There has to be an impact in the private sector, and they have to demonstrate change on a significant scale. There needs to be a partnership with a government and find the most dedicated people to work with.”

The next question was how the healthcare sector could contribute towards India’s goal of becoming a 5 trillion dollar economy. Mr. Ajay Piramal answered, “There is a lack of healthcare spending in our country. There is a lack of infrastructure and innovation. However, we have showcased that we can ramp up these aspects in a short time. The innovations showcased after the second wave has been tremendous. COVID tests cost a fraction of the cost compared to what it cost in the UK. India has the power to become the source of talented doctors, nurses and people for the healthcare sector for the world. Our company is actively working towards creating a national register for healthcare. There is a huge opportunity in the healthcare sector, and India is gradually working towards it.”

When asked about MSMEs role in a 5 trillion dollar economy, Mr. Piramal says MSMEs lack the funding they require. Previously, data wasn’t readily available for MSMEs. Now, with all the data, MSMEs can assess risk easily. However, there needs to be a mix of data and equity for the economy to grow, which can deliver a lot towards a 5 trillion dollar economy.” And speaking about lessons for a better private sector role for India in the 5 trillion dollar quest, Mr. Piramal said, “Government is actively looking at the private sector. The privatization of Air India is an example. LIC is another one. However, moving on, privatization may be slow considering the farm bills. Banks have strong unions, which may slow down privatization. Overall, we are moving towards privatization and less of public sectors.”

To attract more investments in India, Mr. Piramal said, “There are a lot of independent regulatory authorities in India which leads to too many regulations, affecting a business’ operations. There needs to be a balance between these regulations and harmonize their operations. States must honour contracts that are set in place for business operations. The sanctity of the contract laid between the government and the company needs to be maintained.”

Talking about the youth of the country, Mr. Piramal said, “The youth today are confident. They are really enthusiastic. The innovations they bring to the table are amazing, and these youth aren’t from the big institutes either. The Piramal group hired 650 youth in 2021, and their contribution to society and enthusiasm is spellbound. These youth are our future leaders. They are ‘Made in India for the world.’”

The conversation moved over to Dr. Rajiv Kumar, who said, “Privileged to be a part of Bombay Chamber’s 186th Foundation Day. Thank you for giving us modern India. Now we need the Chambers more than ever to reach the 5 trillion dollar economy goal. We need breakthrough thinking, and the usual business won’t suffice to achieve our goal. We can agree that our growth rate isn’t enough to achieve our goal, and we need to break into the double digital barrier. We need innovative thinking and breakthroughs in a short period of time. For the next 2 to 3 decades, there needs to be consistent, rapid growth.”

“Secondly, we do not have the luxury of growing now and retrofitting later. We need to make our growth equitable. We need to offer jobs to empower people. Our democracy won’t allow us growth on equal terms, and we cannot afford that. And to top it all, India is diverse. We need to do things to focus on all of these aspects and address these challenges. We have the talent to achieve our goal. However, we cannot adapt or adopt models followed by other countries. We will need to come up with our own model, and Bombay Chamber can help us achieve our goal.”

“We have started with innovation in vernacular languages, i.e. in 22 languages. This is how we have planned to take innovation across the board. We really need to build trust between the government and the business. Government should work towards simplifying the regulatory overburdening on business and work together with the state government. We can achieve our goal when everything harmonizes and when we achieve 10% of sustainable growth. Also, there needs to be a shift in business thinking. Their focus should be on earning profit while making a sustainable impact. That is how we will achieve our goals.”

Ms. Anjali posed the question to Dr. Rajiv, “What is your perspective on pulling people out of poverty while balancing everything else on the board?” To which, Dr. Rajiv replied, “This is where we put our minds together. We need to focus on agriculture with respect to profits, economics and climate. The previous agricultural revolution has run its course, and we need to find a new way to balance it; fresh thinking is needed to make agriculture globally competitive.”

“Coming on to education, 85% of our children have no preschool education. Also, from the beginning to the highest level of education, none of our institutions is in the top 200. We need a thorough rethink of our education system.”

“Most women are anaemic. 38% of the children are undernourished. We really need to work on these aspects and find a balance.” Dr. Rajiv added, “Technology is upon us, and we need to harness it to find the answers to these challenges. We need to develop a culture where are startups feel powerful with the right support from the government. Innovation is the need of the hour. India has the potential to become the supplier of talented youth for the world.”

When asked about agriculture, Dr. Rajiv said, “The industrial model of agriculture is completely unabideable for India. We don’t have the means to do large scale farming. We followed biochemical agriculture, and that has run its course. We are now focusing on agripreneurs to find new paths in agriculture and find viable spaces for natural farming. Precision farming can offer profits, while water harnessing is another method that can be followed to yield results. There should be a focus on reviving old water bodies. All aspects of agriculture should come together – crops, poultry, dairy, fish, etc. – to make it commercially viable and ecologically sustainable.”

Dr. Rajiv’s perspective on India’s need to step up manufacturing was, “The production linked incentives are based on performance. They need to be globally competitive and scalable. This is a new policy while the previous policy was a complete no-no. Now, we have developed enough capacity to develop an ambitious policy that targets 13 sectors. These capacities need to be built to de-risk themselves. The incentives will only be offered to those who achieve time-bound challenges. If they do, exports and profits will go up. Target-based PLI is the need of the hour. However, manufacturing might not be the answer to employment. We will have to find new sources of employment where the equitable part is achieved. The government has done its bit by expanding what the MSMEs can do. Also, high skill, low skill and handicrafts need to be taken into account for manufacturing.”

Mr. Nilesh asked Dr. Rajiv about his thoughts on market attraction: how do we sell it to the stakeholder and fast track consensus building? Dr. Rajiv replied, “We need to create an awareness which is far too little right now. The more we can do to bring out our markets, the more we can use multiple languages to help build consensus. There is no shortcut in our democracy. Each state is equivalent to a country having its own priorities and businesses. The regional businesses need to work together with the state government by building a different narrative for each sector. The academics have to engage more with society than the constituency abroad.”

Mr. Nilesh asked, “What can the domestic investors do to benefit from this growth journey of India?” “Our private debt to GDP ratio is 50% compared to 100 and 150% of other counties. We need to create more private debt. We have to broaden the menu where the investors can participate. This way, the risk perception will be lower. We can help domestic investors by offering them more space. We need to figure out why the corporates are shy from investing. Finally, we need to work on our banking sector, where our credit growth is slow. We can bring in more private investments through FinTech as we slowly move towards digital payment.”

The event ended with Mr. Nilesh Shah offering a vote of thanks.

About Bombay Chamber: Established in 1836, the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry is one of the oldest Chambers in the Country. Bombay Chamber has an illustrious history of 184 years. Under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013 (Section 25 of The Companies Act, 1956) it is registered as a nonprofit organisation. Chamber has played a significant role in the development of the c ...

News Release: 186th Foundation Day of Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Submitted on: January 14, 2022 11:32:51 AM
Submitted by: Bombay Chamber
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