India’s young CEOs said on Tuesday they would double spends on research and development to ensure the ‘Make in India’ initiative was more effective. In an interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, young entrepreneurs said they would try to become more self-reliant. “We will strive to enhance our skills, create online skill training courses that cater for industry needs,” NITI Aayog, which organised the event, quoted CEOs as saying. The CEOs, who were sharing inputs with the PM on how farmers’ incomes could be doubled, said the aim was to create 1 million agripreneurs to serve 100 million farmers in India, enabling massive self-employment. To double farmers’ income, the government should scrap the APMC Act to enable an open market for agricultural products in India, they suggested. Allowing the private sector to set up mandis and giving farmers a choice to sell their produce to multiple buyers will help them augment income, they said. The CEOs suggested that risk capital should be made available to support agribusiness start-ups while non-farm ventures should be created for supplementary income. Stressing that India needs to move towards becoming a less-cash society, Modi asked the CEOs to encourage the use of the BHIM app for cashless transactions and ensure by 2022 that employees working for them go cashless. He also asked them to distribute khadi coupons as Diwali gifts.
The PM exhorted entrepreneurs to become soldiers of development while the CEOs shared their recommendations on how the Make in India initiative could be made more effective and how top-class infrastructure could be created. The CEOs also shared their thoughts on how the financial sector could be reformed and readied for a new India by 2022. Addressing over 200 CEOs, Modi asked them to work to reduce imports, increase agricultural exports, promote digital payments and tourism.
“Gandhiji made Independence a mass movement. Every government has tried to take India forward. But development has not become a mass movement,” Modi told the CEOs gathered under the ‘Champions of Change’ event organised by NITI Aayog. The PM said India’s development needed to be a mass movement much like Mahatma Gandhi’s freedom struggle was. Strong measures will be required to harness all possible sources of growth in farmers’ earnings, which needs to grow 10.41% annually to double their income by 2022-23 as promised by the government, NITI Aayog member Ramesh Chand had said in a policy paper.
Six groups of young CEOs made presentations before the prime minister on various themes. Modi assured the CEOs that their inputs would surely be incorporated in policymaking. Among others, the Tuesday’s meeting was attended by Cabinet ministers and secretaries of various departments. “If this generation thinks of feasible solutions to our unique problems, markets and jobs will automatically be created,” Modi added. He stressed on the need to focus on export oriented agri products, saying that innovative ideas like cultivating timber on fringes of farmland would help achieve the goal of doubling farmers’ income. India annually lost around Rs 1 lakh crore of agri products due to lack of infrastructure. Creating infrastructure in itself is a business opportunity, prime minister said.