Archive for May, 2011

May 29, 2011

One example of social entrepreneurship…

Amit Bhatia is founder and CEO of ASPIRE.

He is trying to bridge the rural urban divide in his own way, taking rural work aspirants, training and coaching them in urban language and cultural expectations and finding them the jobs that suit them best.

Read here for more details……

May 29, 2011

A New Footprint for business to measure and mind

An intriguing idea to say the least. Still trying to figure out just how it would  work. But a good start is a good start.  Read on….

Exploring the links between international business and poverty reduction

May 29, 2011

Do we need more regulation or less?

For 40 years we had what is now known as the ‘License Raj‘. Then came liberalization. Then came hesitation. And then came confusion. This is where are now in India.

While business licensing became more open and less onerous, and while tariffs were lowered and direct foreign investment (not saying this is the best way to go every time) permitted in many areas, many sectors of business and many activities stayed (and still are) permit shackled. On the face of it, the 80 licenses a company once needed to start a venture has come down to 4 or so but the local state level hassles stay. If someone wants to get in your way, enough regulatory and legal loopholes exist for raising barriers that can take years to clear. Land and labor laws remain ridden with more lacunae than you can count and much of the old morass is till there to trap you.

In a 2010 report India ranked 124th in the index of ‘economic freedom‘ out of a total of 179 countries.

Currently there are still too many regulations in place for consumer products. Government still owns too many businesses that are inefficient. Telecommunication is a prime example of government half measures, uneven regulation and unfair enforcement. It is also the cause of the corruption being investigated as part of the 2G scam. Sadly corporate culpability here reaches the highest, most respected brands and their leaders in India.

India’s recent economic history most experts analyze in terms of ‘Before the Reforms’ and ‘After the Reforms’ except that ‘Reform’ was just another name for a forced liberalization, reluctantly done under global pressure and for pressing internal exigencies. There was no fundamental ideological shift at either government or private industry levels. Ideological inertia, closed minds, insecure domestic players, tenacious bureaucratic control, political greed and sundry other evils of the command and control regime hung on, survived, mutated and are to this day actively playing a dangerous part in the economic travails of this country.

Too much regulation has bred a ‘statutory, mandated’ mindset in business in India. Looking for loopholes and finding them has become routine. How not to get taxed was the first lesson taught to young business heads. How to evade regulatory scrutiny was next. But neither the government nor business seem to understand that we HAVE MOVED ON!

Less government regulation and more self-regulation experts say is the way to release economic and business energies in a democracy (strong and healthy we are proud to say) such as ours. A strong market system the same experts tell us can work only if there are strong institutions to underpin it. These we do not have. Self regulation is a challenging concept which domestic business in India has yet to master.

The one sector where we have done well for ourselves is finance. Our regulations have protected us from many global shocks and crashes. The reason for this is clear. The real regulation here comes from an ‘independent’ authority: The Reserve Bank of India. Thankfully the politicians have all realized that this is one areas where they cannot pretend to know more than the experts.

India needs not more, but more relevant regulations in both business and social sectors: transparent and simple frameworks for business growth and investment; fair and just rules for use of our natural resources (rules that protect the interests of the indigenous owners); adoption of global best practices particularly in the regulatory framework for food, nutrition, maternal and child health; and more protection of human rights.

 We need business and government to respect each other. And we need to stop wasting Mr Ahluwalia‘s time in the anachronism known as the Planning Commission and bring him center stage where his intellect can make a real difference.


How will Government Regulations Impact Your Business?

Managing government relations for the future: McKinsey Global Survey results

May 5, 2011

Pepsi vs Coke: Who is doing good and who is doing better

Pepsi Refresh Update:

Coca-Cola Open Happiness Campaign Keeps on Rolling

Coke comes under attack for chemicals in cans