The Forbes India CEO Dialogues were held in New Delhi on March 17, where senior bureaucrats of the Indian government and leaders of industry discussed the theme ‘25 years on, has the Indian economy liberalized enough?’
Panelists included Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog; Anil Swarup, coal secretary; Shaktikanta Das, economic affairs secretary; Analjit Singh, founder and chairman emeritus, Max Group; Ajay Singh, chairman, SpiceJet; Ajay Shriram, chairman, DCM Shriram; and Zarin Daruwala, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank in India. The discussion was moderated by Forbes India Editor Sourav Majumdar
The panelists expressed what changes were necessary in crucial sectors so as to result in a higher growth rate of the country’s economy.
Excerpts from what they said:
Ajay Shriram – The government should further reduce controls so that India can move towards greater economic liberalization. Leadership is a major factor that leads to achieving results. We have seen some ministries move very effectively and rapidly. Also, there are certain ministries where implementation of reforms is easier and some where it is relatively more difficult
Analjit Singh – The administration that runs this country needs to gear up and prepare for the new-world governance model. Decisions at the government level need to be taken fearlessly. We need to find a legal and concrete way of protecting officials, if integrity is in place. I look for better alignment between political parties who need to come together to look for national-level solutions for the country. Otherwise, all the developments we are talking about will be compromised.
Ajay Singh – What we need now is a complete change in mindset in the civil aviation sector, and take advantage of opportunities that we have before us today.
Zarin Daruwala – I think we as bankers would like to see further reforms on dealing with bankruptcy, including a banker’s ability to move quickly and get things resolved. We have to look at inclusive growth and imparting skills to our workforce.
Amitabh Kant – I see positive changes at the top layers of bureaucracy, but these need to permeate much faster. Bureaucracy has the chance to become the key catalyst of change for India, and it will not get this opportunity again. Therefore, we must go all out for radical reforms. If India has to grow at 9 to 10 percent, certain risks have to be taken, which requires civil servants to take a lot of bold decisions. Across the board, the startup movement is spreading from the digital world to manufacturing, agriculture and social sectors. I think the challenge really is to make it spread from tier I metros to tier II and III cities.
Shaktikanta Das – a lot of local administrative innovations are taking place. Almost all states now have automated processes and the administrative machinery is working much faster. We need to move faster. We need to move much faster on implementing the Goods and Services Tax, and the new Bankruptcy Law. A lot of other initiatives in the area of reforms have been announced and we will continue to push that.
Anil Swarup – To me, the problem that we face today is not in terms of large reforms. To me, the problem is at the operational level; of what is actually happening on the ground. For that, though in some cases we do require legislative reforms, I don’t think the law is an impediment. Look at how the power sector is being turned around. There’s a lesson there. Today there is a crisis in the steel, shipping and cement sectors. The difference between these sectors and coal and power is that in the latter, a comprehensive view was taken and a strategy worked out, which is being implemented on the ground.