Southern India chamber sees the economy picking up in a year or so

Preferring to view the current slowdown in economy as a temporary blip caused by factors domestic and international, SICCI president Ramachandran Ganapathi is optimistic that the current situation presents to the government an opportunity to overhaul policies and programmes to shore up ease of doing business as also make life easier for entrepreneurs, who in turn create jobs and keep the economy going.


In an atmosphere of gloom and doom being visualized by several commentators and captains of industry, the Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) has a refreshingly different and positive take about the emerging economic situation in the country. Ramachandran Ganapathi, who heads the country’s oldest and first chambers of commerce and industry, feels that growth momentum will pick up in a year or two and is of the opinion that government ought to take some confidence-building measures and also come out with a stimulus to help industry and more important carry out bureaucratic reforms.

The last mentioned, according to him will go a long way in helping improve the ease of doing business which in turn will help push up the indicators in the desired direction. In an interview with GLOBAL GOVERNANCE NEWS(GGN),  Mr Ganapathi Ramachandran outlines the importance of encouraging the start-up culture and steps the SICCI was taking to help small, and medium industrial unit and service enterprises.

Excerpts from the interview of Mr R Ganpathi with our Consulting Editor KV Lakshmana.

GGN: Do you share the worry over the economy as expressed by a few other leading lights of the Indian Inc? Is the slowdown we are witnessing a cyclical one or structural?
Ramachandran Ganapathi: Yes. The present slowdown is the combination of cyclical as well as structural.
GGN: How long do you suppose India would take to counter this slowdown and revive? Do you think that the ball is in the government’s court, now? Do we see all indicators pointing in the other direction and data suggests not a very flattering picture of the economy at the macro level?
R Ganapathi: It depends upon various factors, both domestic as well as international. However, we feel that growth momentum will pick in the next one or two years. The government is seriously looking into various aspects and we are confident that certain policy interventions may come shortly.
GGN: At a time when no particular sector is feeling happy, other than maybe temples and priests, and astrologers, what in your view should be the focus of the government and the private sector?
R Ganapathi: Though few sectors are unhappy, it cannot be generalized that all sectors are unhappy. The situation what we are today cannot be compared with 1991 as the fundamentals are strong and the inflation is under control and we have healthy reserves. The IMF and Asian Development Bank have estimated that the growth will be around 7%. We feel the Government should create confidence-building measures for the private sector, including stimulus package plus sops for specific sectors, investment in infrastructure, GST relief, further cuts in the bureaucratic red tape particularly on cross border trade, steps to improve ease of doing business, etc.,
GGN: Do you think that India growth story has hit a roadblock and unwitting sufferers have been the start-up units that are facing the biggest challenge of survival?
R Ganapathi: We can’t generalize that the start-up units are facing the biggest challenge of survival due to slowdown. The cross-functional team of technology, finance, customer, and commercial think differently and explore new ideas and opportunities. The cross-functional teamwork wonders when they think and express out of the box as they are less hierarchy oriented, shaping new ideas, etc.,
GGN: SICCI, the chamber you head, the country’s oldest chamber, has begun an initiative to honor and award the successful start-ups that are self-sustaining and profit-making.? What is the initial response to your announcement and what are the parameters on which the start-ups are going to be judged?
R Ganapathi: The initial response is encouraging and following are the broad parameters. Start-Ups should be in Maturity Phase with 3 to 5 years of existence and must have a sustainable revenue stream. We welcome more entries under the prescribed format available on our website.
GGN: How important is the start-up culture in the future of the India growth story?
R Ganapathi: Culture plays a very important role in the industrial growth of the country. It is the right time that entrepreneurs need to look at founding ethical enterprises of the future and the need to seed a culture of zero tolerance to fraud. Further, the start-up should be clear and should take a stand against conflicts of interest.
GGN: Are there any particular sectors you think that are more amenable to start-up solutions and are start-up friendly? To what extent can the brick and mortar, traditional companies need to mould, change and adapt themselves in the new business and work culture to be able to compete in the market place?
R Ganapathi: Though there are few sectors that are more amenable and start-up friendly, we feel that opportunity in rental housing and unleashing experiments with the unsold real estate is something that could be worth exploring.
GGN: When it comes to South India, does the chamber have a special plan to augment and promote industry, enterprises, and entrepreneurs from this region – the six southern states, including Puducherry?
R Ganapathi: Yes. The Chamber has plans – both long term and short term – to augment and promote the industry in the southern region. One of the initiatives the SICCI has taken is the creation of offices in other States, Puducherry as well as in other districts of Tamil Nadu. Another initiative the Chamber has taken for Tamil Nadu is the mapping of native entrepreneurs and interacting with the Government in promoting entrepreneurial skill, district wise. On the skill development, the Chamber has started the initiative with NTTF and will be focusing on critical areas of skill development including electrical.

*OUR Consulting Editor KV Lakshmana is a Sr Journalist of more than 35 years of national & International media,at present  based at Bangaluru,Karnataka,
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