The government wants companies to be open to risk and invest more. The businessmen, for their part, want the government to make it easier to do business, come out with a bankruptcy code, and define corruption.
These are some of the things that dominated conversation at a three-hour meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with the country’s top industrialists, economists and bureaucrats at his residence in New Delhi on Tuesday morning.
One clear takeaway was that focus on agriculture, food processing, and the creation of infrastructure would fortify the domestic economy against the current global turmoil and in fact help the country benefit from it.
The Prime Minister described the meeting as “productive”. “We had insightful and constructive discussions on economic issues,” he said in a tweet later in the day.
Modi said that the current crisis was an opportunity for India. “We should look at the scenario today as an opportunity for India that must be seized,” he tweeted.
The Prime Minister, who spoke last after 27 others had spoken, laid emphasis on creating jobs through small enterprises and the rural job guarantee scheme – MGNREGA – could be used as a tool to develop skills.
“I outlined steps taken by the Centre towards facilitating start-ups, boosting skill development and MUDRA Bank,” he tweeted.
I outlined steps taken by the Centre towards facilitating start-ups, boosting skill development & MUDRA bank. http://t.co/jjYytaN7xH— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 8, 2015
Corporate India turned up in full strength for the meeting, some of the marquee names being Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, Tata Group head Cyrus Mistry, Aditya Birla Group head Kumar Mangalam Birla, Bharti Airtel chief Sunil Bharti Mittal and ITC chief Y C Deveshwar.
“The Prime Minister has said that industry must take risk and increase investments,” CII president Sumit Mazumder told reporters.
Ficci president Jyotsna Suri, however, said the cost of capital was too high. “I don’t know how many people can go ahead to take risk and invest... many of us raised the issue of interest rate.”
The overall thrust of the morning discussion was that India had been relatively untouched by the turmoil triggered by the upheaval in China’s economy, currency and markets and had only suffered a “transient impact” on the markets.
Talking about benefiting from the global turmoil, finance minister Arun Jaitley, who briefed journalists after the meeting, said India stood to gain from human resources and lower oil prices. He underlined the need to boost private investment while de-stressing steel, textiles, power distribution, and tourism companies.
Minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha said all stakeholders – private and public -- needed to work in sync towards long-term competitiveness. “Global and domestic trends are positive for India and we need to focus on job creation,” Sinha said, adding that the Make in India programme needed to be encouraged for both exports and domestic consumption.