In today’s VUCA world—one that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous—what is needed is adaptability to the fast changing interconnected global economy, which can only be provided by systems and processes that take proactive and corrective actions on demand.
Consider the Union Budget, which has been losing much of its significance and relevance, much like the Five Year Plans that India once used to draw up. In the dynamic environment that we are living in, even a week is too long a period for decision-making. In fact, decisions need to be taken fast and as and when required, instead of once a year. The provisions and recommendations of the Budget, therefore, remain just that and don’t always see implementation. Sometimes, implementation happens even when it is not provisioned for. But that is a decision for the government to take and, for now, we need to use this existing tool in the best possible manner.
The upcoming Union Budget must focus on creating a conducive ecosystem for start-ups in the e-commerce industry. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious ‘Start-up India’ initiative was launched last month to boost digital entrepreneurship at the grassroots level. At the event, the industry was vocal and more or less summed up its expectations regarding the Budget in front of the Prime Minister. Now we expect finance minister Arun Jaitley to provide income-tax exemptions—at least for the first few years—to boost start-ups in the country. It is not only because profits need to be retained by the company during the formative years to grow business, but also to avoid the hassle and time and money spent on maintaining and filing returns. The entrepreneurial teams should not be forced to devote any of their bandwidth to such activities at least for the first few years.
Besides, faster patent registrations and quicker exits for companies were some of the promises made at the event. The industry was quick to welcome the “less interference and more support” tone of the programme. The Start-up India action plan announcement contains sweeping policy innovations to foster more creative start-ups, and like any other plan, implementation in letter and, more importantly, in spirit will hold the key to its success. The Budget announcements will indicate whether the government is keeping its promises or not?
We would also like to see on-the-ground action by the government on policies and tax relief, breaks to be announced, how they are going to be implemented, who is going to be responsible for implementing them, and how we are going to ensure that the entrepreneur is positively impacted by all this.
The government’s role in making the journey smooth for start-ups, in fact, begins with providing basic infrastructure. Electricity, ports, roads as also last-mile connectivity are the pillars on which entrepreneurs will build their business and value proposition. That apart, certain norms like how easy it should be to set up a business, or exit it and start afresh if things don’t work out, would come under building the start-up ecosystem by the government.
The author is founder, CEO & MD of mJunction Services Ltd, and chairman of CII National Committee on e-commerce