On the eve of the launch of ‘Start-Up’ campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Friday that India has “woken up” too late on it and owned up responsibility for the delay, while noting that he had been in administration earlier.
Mukherjee, while interacting with a delegation of CEOs from the Silicon Valley here, said India needs to grow at the rate of 10 per cent over period of next 10-15 years in order to address the issues of poverty and healthcare.
“Some of you have correctly pointed out that they (new entrepreneurs) feel confident, they want to do..It is the job of the government to create the policy environment to encourage entrepreneurship. We have taken too long but nonetheless we have taken that decision. We have woken up,” he told the CEOs while referring to the ‘Start-Up’ campaign which is aimed at boosting entrepreneurship at grassroots level.
While talking about the delay in creating an environment enabling for small entrepreneurs, Mukherjee, who had served as Finance Minister in the previous UPA government, said, “I cannot pass on the buck to anybody. I will have to take the buck to myself because I was in administration too long.”
He appreciated Modi for taking the initiative.
Talking about the policies followed during his ministership, Mukherjee said, “the amount of investment we made for hospitalising the sick industries over a longer period of time only made the investment inefficient.”
He said “mere political freedom, if not backed by economic freedom, is not going to solve the problem of vast multitude.”
The President added that India needs to grow at the rate of 10 per cent over next 10-15 years to bring this country out of poverty line and to give minimum requirement of civilised life – education, health, infrastructure and job.
The delegation of CEOs under The Indus Enterpreneurs (TiE) umbrella met President and shared that they studied in India but could do well only after they reached Silicon Valley because of policy environment provided by US government.
They demanded that India should cut down on red tapism for investors and instead open up red carpet for them so that they are able to invest in start-up firms in the country.
Agreeing with them, Mukherjee cited the example of various Nobel Prize winners of Indian origin and said there is no dearth of talent in India.
“I am not asking government to spend more money, that government needs to invest more but how to utilise existing talents and resources to their optimum level,” he said.
He said he sees almost every day 3-4 new start up firms coming up which means people are taking up the challenge.
The President agreed to the proposal of TIE delegation that winding up norms of start-ups should be eased.
“What is to die, let it die peacefully. Out of 100 (start-up firms), 60 are bound to die and 10 may be in grey area which is they may succeed or may not succeed,” he said.
One of the delegation members said they have been lobbying in US for policy favouring India and gradually they are supporting more people of Indian origin to become member of US Congress.
Most of the CEOs said they graduated from IITs but lack of opportunity led to them to move outside.
“Most of us don’t have an entrepreneur background, but we Indians are known for entrepreneurship in the Silicon Valley,” Inventus Capital MD Kanwal Rekhi, who was present at the meeting, said.
He is of the view that India needs to develop 1 per cent of its population as entrepreneurs.
“In the US, 2 per cent of population is entrepreneurs. If in India, we can have 2 per cent entrepreneurs, we will be most powerful in the world,” Rekhi added.
In a presentation, the TiE delegation shared that India needs to create 2 million jobs every month to meet employment demand of its growing population.
It said that in the US, 70 per cent of jobs are generated by start-ups like Google, Facebook, Apple and in the last 10 years, firms backed by India-origin investors account for 30 per cent of that.