An overpopulated economy like India has no other alternative than entrepreneurship: Arun Jaitley


At the Startup India event on Saturday, Arun Jaitley, Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, spoke about the state of Indian startups, how the government would help them going forward, and the challenges ahead. He considered this to be a landmark day for Indian entrepreneurs and the ecosystem. He said,

I have made and witnessed very many announcements in Vigyan Bhavan, but today is very different. There are no usual suspects, today I see many new entrepreneurs beyond the conventional economy.

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Here are some of the key highlights from his session.

Government is a facilitator but not a day-to-day player in startup journeys

Arun Jaitley stressed that government will only be at an arm’s length as facilitators and will not play an active role in day-to-day functioning of startups in any way, other than areas of policy. He said, “I consciously use the word campaign in relation to the Startup India because we are essentially facilitators. The government will have very little role in the process.”

Comparing the current state of entrepreneurship and the Indian economy to a few decades ago, Arun Jaitley noted,

We broke away from License Raj in 1991, moving away from the constrained economy. But that break was partial.

He elaborated how foreign investment was still difficult, with tight environmental clearances, and lack of funders. Entrepreneurs or investors were also mostly reluctant to either start up or put in money. The government’s effort since the past year has been to facilitate the process. There are no files to be pushed. DIPP was the corridor where people visited to get clearance. Now it is performing the role of an enabler.

India has no other alternative than entrepreneurship

While clearances, financial regulations, and other issues still hold back India’s entrepreneurs, Arun Jaitley reiterated that the government is working on helping Indian entrepreneurs with ideas and tools, a friendly tax regime, better use of technology and innovation, such that the sky will be the limit for Indian entrepreneurs.

Arun Jaitley stated that unlike a few decades ago where crises situations were few and far between, the current scenario is different. With the world more inter-connected today through technology, more problems have risen and there are generally multiple crises in different parts of the world, which have lasting global impact. While the world economy has slowed down, India is still growing fast but not without our own challenges. The government has aimed to increase public spending, opened doors enough so that foreign investments can come in. Talking about the future, he said,

No one can predict what the emerging challenges of the world will be in the next few years/months. India has a booming services sector; manufacturing slowly growing; FDI coming in urban areas. Investment in agriculture remains slow, although impacted by two slow monsoon seasons.

Government has limited ability to create jobs, entrepreneurs need to chip in

The government has had to look at new areas like the Mudra Scheme, which was set up to target 25 per cent of the bottom layer of the society. “Earlier they were exploited by money lenders. We have enabled 1.73 crore entrepreneurs get loans under this scheme.”

Based on the success of this programme the government will roll out The Standup India will be separately. He said “We are targeting women and SC/ST segments because these segments have not thrown enough entrepreneurs. Almost 3,000 new entrepreneurs to be created under this scheme.”

But to cater to India’s growing population Jaitley re-iterated that the entrepreneurs should not rely solely on the government as they can’t cater to every Indian entrepreneur. Talking about the Startup India initiative, he said,

It was PM's original idea that this was where startups needed to be created. We expect the new India taking cue from those Indians in Silicon Valley who have generated ideas and created wealth. The Standup India initiative is also aimed at promoting entrepreneurship among SCs/STs, women communities.

We have worked on an entrepreneur-friendly taxation regime. “Entrepreneurs need freedom from the state, the sector should be less regulated. India’s IT sector grew because we had no laws restraining them.”

Arun Jaitley ended his session on a high note, thanking the audience and remarking at the interest that the Indian startup ecosystem had shown for the event,

This event should have been held in a stadium today, as so many people wanted to attend it and we accommodate only a limited audience. Congrats DIPP for having taken this great initiative. We have some world-beaters from India somewhere in this crowd, who will be forces to reckon with in the future. We will be proud of you!

YourStory is a proud partner of the Government of India’s ‘Start-up India’ movement, to be launched on 16 January 2016 in New Delhi. 

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