Doing Business in India

The recent report by the World Bank about doing business in India places the country at 130 among the nearly 180 countries surveyed. India has risen by four places as compared to 2015 and other parameters in the index have improved.

The change of government in 2014 which ushered in a pro business and pro-reform dispensation headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is cited for the noticeable increase in developmental indices such as the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth rate, FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) inflows, and an overall increase in competitiveness.

For instance, the GDP growth for the last two years has been above 7% (though there are some doubts about the methodology followed), inflation has been tamed and cooler at around 5%, the FDI for the last year has been at $63 Billion surpassing even China that has been a global benchmark for the last decade or so in terms of attracting foreign capital. All these measures seem to indicate that India is indeed a “rising star” and is being seen as the “fastest growing major economy” in the world.

Having said that, it must also be noted that while the market sentiment and the investment climate has improved, much needs to be done on the ground for India to be able to fulfil its potential as a Caged Elephant that can overtake the Asian Tigers.

For instance, the ease of land acquisition is still yet to be reformed, and successive governments including the present one have tried without success to pass legislation that is business friendly and inclusive at the same time. In a similar vein, the ambitious GST or the Goods and Services Tax Bill which envisages a unified market under one tax rate is stuck in Parliament despite the Modi government expending significant political capital on its passage.

In addition, if the ease of doing business in India has to succeed, there needs to be reform of the labour laws as well as noticeable improvement in the physical and virtual infrastructure.

Further, the success of any attempt to make the Indian economy investor and business friendly would also have to take into account the slow moving Judiciary, the rampant corruption that has corroded all the institutions and has been a bottleneck for economic growth which can only happen with a mindset change at all levels and in all sections of society.

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