"It Takes 26 Days to Start a Business, We Want to Bring it Down to Six Days"

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In an interview with Entrepreneur, Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), spoke on a range of issues including ease of doing business to cutting down time to set up a business.

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What has been moving on the ease of doing business front, do you think its pace is fast enough, as we perceive it to be a very slow but steady movement?

Considering the fact that nothing much has happened in past six decades on the ease of doing business front, I think in two years there has been a lot of progress; it's a question of mindset change, process re-engineering, use of technology and taking out the physical touch points. According to the World Bank report, we rank 111 in terms of having electricity connections. We need to progress on others parameters also. Other countries that top the chart have been working on it for decades. We have just started working on this for last two years, so we have a long way to go.

Next year, what will be the government's focus to improve on that?

Our focus is to be featured on top 50 on the World Bank business report. We are already on top 50 for some parameters and by next year, we are aiming to be on top 50 in every parameter. It takes 26 days to set up a business; we want to bring it down to six days next year.

Companies like Ola and Flipkart have been asking for protection, what is your take on that?

The e-commerce committee, headed by Amitabh Kant, is looking at various issues faced by the sector. They will be filing a report to the government, based on which the government will suggest further recommendations to develop the e-commerce sector.

Even before you joined, Amitabh Kant had already set the floor; he had personally taken several initiatives. Has that helped you further?

Government works in continuity; it's the people who keep on changing. I will be changing few things again and then somebody new will come in. Government works according to its priorities.

Amitabh Kant said that by 2027, India will be able to hold its own ground. Now do you think by getting into the digital band, we will move ahead? How do you see this competition complementing vision 2027?

If you look at technology, there are no set rules to follow. Everyone has to walk their own path. Like in case of Aadhar, in terms of usage and technology and financial inclusion, I think it is a path breaking initiative. It has not been attempted anywhere in the world on this scale. The government is now focusing on increasing Internet penetration to improve the outreach of its policies like the Jan Dhan accounts.

How do you see India benefiting from such a huge population?

India has a huge young population and it can be turned into a huge workforce, provided that they are skilled in the proper way.

Do you think, entrepreneurs should focus on skill based training or conventional education is enough for honing such skills?

Education and skill are not contradictory to each other. Skill-based education has to be a part of the education system. The government and the private sectors should take the initiative to improve the skill development program. And, the government is focusing on that.

Entrepreneurs are not able to solidify domestic growth to combat international competition, not in respect of any one company, but when you are talking about Indian start-ups in general, at the end of the day, some international companies come and take the glory away, what are the issues we need to take care of?

It is completely wrong to say that Indian technology development and businesses are happening because of collaboration with international companies, it is not at all true. Indian companies are doing technology development and businesses which are completely independent, they are very innovative. I read somewhere that out of 100 apps that come out, 28 are from India. I think Indian companies are doing extremely innovative work and definitely not dependent on international companies.

(This article was first published in the April issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)