Path of ease of doing business still not easy!
Vijay Darda - After the release of World Bank’s ease of doing business index, a buoyant impression is being created that reaching 100th rank from 130th position means that everything in the country has changed and foreign investors will now rush to the country! No one is taking pains to explain that this ranking has been released only on the basis of studies in Delhi and Mumbai. The World Bank considered these two cities as models. The study found that the condition has improved to start business in these cities on indicators such as obtaining construction permits, getting loans, paying tax, bankruptcy settlement, etc. But are the conditions similar in other cities of the country too?
There is no doubt that the process of improving business environment in India is underway. And that is why the World Bank has incorporated India among top 10 countries that have improved the business environment. This report has been issued in 190 countries based on the reforms made during the period from June 2, 2016 to June 1, 2017. If we are at 100th rank among 190 countries, it is still a matter of concern because in terms of population we are second in the world. In the midst of excitement of getting good ranking in the ease of doing business index, I would definitely like to remind that in this column last month, I wrote about hunger, i.e. the hunger index.
We have gone up and down in this index. Earlier, we were at number 97, but in this year’s report we are at the 100th position. How embarrassing it is that in the hunger index, we are behind our neighbours like China, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. A girl from Jharkhand dies of hunger while crying out for rice and our government remains unmoved? The question is why can not we bring this index of hunger to zero? The government has got such a huge mandate; it has got all the power and resources at its disposal. Then what is the problem? Our Prime Minister works a lot, no doubt about it, but a labourer also works! The main thing is what is the outcome of that work? What is being achieved from it? Today, there is lack of quality in every field. Adulteration reigns supreme. Corruption has spread everywhere.
The question is: Why does the government not bring in such a Bill that provides for a severe punishment for the adulterators and the corrupt! What is preventing it from bringing in such a Bill? If there is a death due to hunger, why should not the chief minister and officials concerned of that area be held responsible? If a bridge falls, why not send the officer to jail, even if he has retired!
The root cause of the problem faced by business sector relates to bureaucracy! Though we may have improved our ranking in the index, the situation here has not eased much. The government was trying to get India included in the list of top 50 countries. But that did not happen. The world believes that starting a business in India is not easy. A businessman has to face red tapism, procrastination and bottlenecks even today. If you want to start an industry or business somewhere, such Byzantine bureaucratic hurdles await the aspiring entrepreneur that if he is weakhearted, he will pass out and die! However, it is claimed that in the last 14 years, India has effected 37 improvements to facilitate business. It is also claimed that nearly half of these improvements have taken place in the last four years. I tried to find out the truth about it from the owners of small, medium and large industrial units and business friends. Everyone said there are so many bureaucratic hurdles that many a time they start to feel like they have committed some mistake or sin by setting up the industry and business!
The atmosphere of credibility is lacking in India. On the contrary, look at China. There is no democracy but the whole world has been investing there for a long time, because China has created a credible and best environment for the business.
If you look at this report carefully, you will see that we were at 26th position in case of power availability earlier, but now our ranking has slipped down to 29th position this year. Our ranking in cross border trade has come down from 143rd to 146th and in the ranking of business start-ups, we have slipped down a notch from 155th to 156th. The natural question is why is there a decline in these areas?
We should not feel complacent for positive report on ease of business as it will not solve our problems. The government will have to bear in mind that only Mumbai and Delhi are not important. Small and medium industries are running too in thousands of other cities across the country. The reality today is that the atmosphere for them has not improved at all. The problem that the businessmen have been experiencing post implementation of the GST, has been felt by the whole country. The statistics of Reserve Bank of India also confirm this. Loans for small businesses are declining. Obviously, if small business condition improved, people would expand business and the size of the loan would also increase. One more thing -- just ask any industrialist or a businessman as to how developed corruption is as a style in our country?
Before I conclude
I am upset with the reports of one gangrape after another and wonder why some people in our country are so pervert? In Bhopal, the role of the police after gangrape of a girl fills one with anger, while the rape of a hundred-year-old woman and her subsequent death leaves everyone shocked. I think this problem can not be addressed properly unless provisions are made for immediate and harsh punishment for the offender. The punishment should be extremely harsh..!