FE CFO Awards 2020: ‘Bad policies of the past left us a poor nation’

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March 24, 2021 8:01 AM

Innovations like paint ‘gobar’ can transform the lives of the poor

He said the government was embarking on a plan to raise the village industry’s turnover from Rs 88,000 crore at present to Rs 5 lakh crore in five years.Till March 2021, an amount worth Rs 2.46 lakh crore has been sanctioned under the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme, according to MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Bad policies of the past left us a poor nation, minister for road transport, highways and MSMEs Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday, even as he outlined a multifaceted vision to address the country’s skewed development and attendant problems, including pockets of sticky poverty in the swathes of rural and tribal India.

Speaking as chief guest at the FE CFO Awards, he set ambitious targets for sectors that hold immense untapped potential to aid India to grow out of its problems: Village industries, automobile sector, clean-energy segments such as bio-fuel, hydrogen energy, electric vehicles. He also dwelt upon unconventional technologies — fly-ash concrete and ‘gobar’ paint — that could complement the intended developmental transformation and called for greater private sector participation.

“Before the Independence, 80% of India’s population were dependent on agriculture. Since 1947, there has been a migration of 30% of the population (primarily to urban centres). We have neglected the agriculture, rural, tribal segments and the poor. As urbanisation process has therefore been fast, the population is now a big problem for the cities. It is high time we adopted innovative ways to develop our rural, tribal and agricultural sectors,” he said.

He said the government was embarking on a plan to raise the village industry’s turnover from Rs 88,000 crore at present to Rs 5 lakh crore in five years. “I am trying my best to accelerate the growth of bio-fuel economy to Rs 2 lakh crore (Rs 20,000 crore at present).

According to the minister, the new vehicle scrapping policy announced last week could boost the domestic automobile industry’s turnover to Rs 10 lakh crore by the end of the term of the Narendra Modi 2.0 government from the current size of about Rs 7.5 lakh crore.

“Thanks to the scrapping policy, we can make Indian automobile industry the number-one manufacturing hub of the world. All reputed global auto brands already have (manufacturing) presence in India. We have all the requisites for cost-effective manufacturing — skilled manpower, raw materials, lower cost of production compared with other countries…” The minister had earlier said that availability of scrapped material would reduce the cost of auto components by 30-40%.

“We can make a solid-waste and liquid-waste management economy of Rs 5 lakh crore,” he noted.
Gadkari said he envisioned the MSME sector to contribute 40% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) from around 30% at present; in parallel, the sector’s contribution to the country’s export could go up to 60% from 48% now. “Until now, we (MSMEs) have created 11 crore jobs and we are now planning to create five crore new jobs in the next five years,” he said.

Coining phrases like ‘waste into wealth’ and ‘knowledge as power’, the minister said these philosophies would help the country deal with many issues it was confronted with. “Ethics, economy and environment are, in my view, should be the three important pillars for policies”.

Underscoring the need to concentrate more on rural, agricultural, tribal sectors, especially the 115 ‘aspirational districts’, the minister said the policies were being designed to boost the job potential of these sectors. This could help resolve the problems of urban areas (like unacceptably high levels of air pollution and crowded habitats).
“The most important role at this juncture is that of the private sector. I feel entrepreneurship is more important than financial management”.

Gadkari, who is credited with accelerating the pace of highway construction – despite the pandemic and the elusive private investor, highways are being built at a rate of 34 km/day so far in the current fiscal, compared with just 12km/day in 2014-15 –, said 22 green Express highways were being developed in the country, in a way that could transform the landscape of the areas these pass through. “President John F Kennedy used to say American roads are not good because America is rich,rather, America is rich because American roads are good”, he remarked.

The FE CFO awards 2020 was earlier distributed with an array of corporate leaders and professionals from assorted fields watching the online event. R Shankar Raman, chief financial officer at L&T, accepting the FE CFO Lifetime Achievement Award said: “These recognitions come our way because we happen to work for organisations and platforms which represent a larger cause which impacts the country. At L&T, it’s been ceaseless pursuit of new learnings, new opportunities, new challenges over the past 27 years.”

Saurabh Agarwal, Group CFO, Tata Sons, who was adjudged “FE CFO of the year” said: “Let me thank the members of the jury and the Indian Express Group for felicitating me with this award, it is truly an honour. I would like to thank my family as well as my team members who helped me achieve what I am. It is a privilege for me to be part of a group which truly represents the value system overall for the country.”

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