Wednesday, 5 October 2016

My reflections at Prabuddha Bharat's STEP 2016

On 24-25 September 2016, Prabuddha Bharat Belagavi had organised a "State of the Nation Conclave 2016" the Conclave was supported by the Visvesvaraya Technological University and Rani Channamma University. The conclave was addressed by renowned speakers and I was also asked to present my reflections on the State of the economy. Below is the text of my reflections at the conclave.

"It is always a feeling of deja vu when you get invited to your home town and are given a chance to address a gathering of delegates in a prestigious conference. I must make it a point to thank Shri L K Havanur, The president of Prabuddha Bharat, Prof Sandeep Nair for thinking about me to be a person of some value to speak to the august audience.

I would  like to place before you my thoughts on three things about the state of the economy.

1. Economic themes post 2014: there is a paradigm shift in the economic themes post 2014 and the new government has been talking about two very important themes;
    a. Ease of doing business: we have been doing business, the wrong way for the past 70 years and have been able to bend rules backwards to accomodate our whims and fancies. The times have changed and also the new regulations on GST will change the way we conduct business in the country. whenever you go to the market to buy anything, the regular question asked is whether you want a bill for the transaction, if you want it then you wil have to pay VAT or sales Tax and the price of the product will go up by that extent. This choice is invariably offered by businessmen of all hues and sizes. With the implementation of GST, the question would become redundant as the seller would have already paid his part of the GST and would be eager to recover that amount from the buyer. Hence learning the clean way of doing business becomes more important. this to my mind is the real contribution in ease of doing business. business becomes easy when every body follows the same rules.
   b. Make in India: there is a lot to be done in promoting 'Make in India', a lot is being done though, labour laws are being tweaked slowly and surreptiously to make it easy for hiring and firing. But the challenges of Make in India are numerous. One of the biggest challenges is the Prohibitive Land proces and highly complex ownership structure of land holdings. this is one obstacle whcih is going to be diffifcult to remove and make "Make in India" easier.

2. Challenges faced by the government in monitoring the economy:

    a. Collecting economic data is a nightmare for our statiticians. Our IIP data is published three months late, Our inflation data is not relied upon by our own industry people. collecting, collating and computing GDP has become a bone of contention between private data aggregators and the government statitistians. Collecting authentic data in a timely manner is a big challenge for a country whose unorganised economy is larger than the organised economy.

   b. Building and maintaining an organised market for various commodities, products and financial services is another major challenge. creating an ecosystem of organised markets and then collecting and disseminating data are two sides of the same coin.

3. What has changed int he last two and a half years?
       a. A very personal example is that I have been asked to be on stage and present my reflections on the state of the economy. The organisers wanted me to talk about my thoughts without asking me about my lineage. This is the biggest change here. Earlier dispensation wanted only those with the right lineage to address gatherings. Being capitalist is no more considered regressive. Still some pockets of the civil (should we call them that) society think that being communist is being progressive. So first victory over the class war has been won by debunking the thought about left leanings being progressive.

     b. We have a government at the centre which has engaged a number of common citizens in a constant dialogue on governance with the help of loca circles and the mygov initiative on the digital platform. I appeal to all of you to please participate on this platform positively and constructively.

    c, Finally you have elected this government in the hope that the government cleans up the house. when you engage somebody to clean your house, remember that the cleaner is bound to reach undr your seat too to get the job done. therefore don't complain that the janitor has reached under your chair too. get up and declare your dirty assets to the government before the cleaner approaches you. these are the last few days available for declaring your black money, make the most of it and declare before the due date.

I would like to end my submission with the following lines

Mera desh badal raha hain, aage badh raha hain.

Thank you"