Hinduja Group global co-chairman Gopichand P Hinduja was in Indore on Saturday to address Global Investors’ Summit. In an interview with Hindustan Times, he talked about new challenges in business environment. Excerpts.
What does India need to attract business investments apart from providing good connectivity, uninterrupted electricity and water supply, labour availability, peaceful environment?
Let me compliment Prime Minister Narendra Modi for changing the face of India. He is a man of vision and dynamism and is blending Hindu way of life with modern needs of the country. What is missing is the speed of his team, which is real barrier to meet his vision. What investors want is honest commitment of leaders, transparency in approach. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has shown commitment. Others are taking cue. Competition among states will uplift (business environment). And it is right time for India to attract business. Look at the world. The UK, the EU have problems because of Brexit, China is slowing down. There is a lot of liquidity in the US but they don’t know where to invest. They look to Asia where India is a bright spot. Though a lot needs to be reformed in India, there is scope.
Indian investors are still not confident about Indian economy. They have more faith in foreign economies. A major chunk of Indian share buyers are foreigners. What needs to be done to restore their confidence and sustain it?
During the “License Raj”, barring two to three business houses, none put their money in their own businesses. None focused on quality, technology. Then Indian economy opened up, reforms occurred. Now, Indian companies need to professionalise, have a clear vision and a business model. This will regain investors’ confidence. For instance, Indian power sector needs reforms, it is difficult to invest there. There is surplus power because manufacturing sector has not picked up. Not many new projects are coming.
Asia-Pacific region has diverse economies from Afghanistan to Australia. To bring coherence in their accounting standards is a challenge. Is it possible to harmonise accounting standards of world’s all economies?
It is possible for global companies. If it happens, it will make business account books cleaner. But the mid-sized companies should be given time to adopt global accounting standards. They should not be forced to adopt it immediately.
Your family comes from Pakistan. India has also been your home. How do you view the hostilities between two countries? What is the business potential of two countries?
I will not blame Pakistan. West is to be blamed for whatever is happening in Pakistan. At present, Pakistan is so scattered; there are many powers within that country. Whom do you deal with? Business potential cannot be realised in such conditions. Educating people is the way out for improvement. It will help people to distinguish between right and wrong.
Private sector banks, Non-Banking Financial Companies, co-operative banks and co-operative credit societies are being used for money laundering. Is the world flooded with unaccounted money?
Because of terrorism, lot of black money is being generated. This money has to be banked somewhere. Western world has created offshore accounts. KYC (Know Your Customer) provision is a headache where you have to fill so many forms. Way out is to upgrade the system and blend it with old system of granting money to old families whom banks know well and not treat them as terrorists. Don’t be rigid. Political funding should be regularised wherein donations should be made through cheques on which (tax) exemptions can be considered.
Is it possible to do business without giving bribes in Asia?
Global companies like us have to sign several anti-bribery forms. Despite this, money changes hands because of lack of morality. We put this matter in hands of our consultants to take care of everything. We keep ourselves away from it.
Comment on Indore?
Jogging tracks, boulevards should be developed for walkers.