It’s time Entrepreneurs Called a Spade a Spade
The last week of July was especially a sad one with the ‘coffee king of India’, V G Siddhartha, of Café Coffee Day (CCD) deciding to take his life instead of fighting it out anymore to win the boardroom battles. It brought back the focus to EODB (ease of doing business) in India. For many of us in Kerala, it may also have brought back memories of NRI entrepreneur Sajan Parayil who committed suicide in June because the local body was harassing him by denying approvals for his business venture on flimsy grounds.
While there is talk of ‘tax terrorism’ and EODB and agencies pushing entrepreneurs off the ridge, by the deceased’s own admission, as elucidated in the suicide note purportedly written by him, everything was not above board at CCD. While Raju (Satyam) decided to face his demons, Siddhartha opted to run away from it. How can anyone else be held more responsible for the predicament entrepreneurs find themselves in?
Earlier in July, there was the Union Budget presented by new FM Nirmala Sitharaman. Apart from the huge push for startups which will benefit Kerala as well, it is a mediocre budget with nothing in it for the State in particular and the middle class in general and many important sectors like Tourism being neglected. Thanks to increase in fuel prices and the impact it will have on overall cost of living, domestic consumption is certain to fall.
As expected, the business community has come out with measured praise for the Union Budget. While they complain and sulk in private, social media and television airtime have been filled with laudatory comments from captains of every industry and major trade bodies!
Renowned journalist Shekhar Gupta summed it up well when he told CNBC TV18, “There is a massive economic crisis in India but businessmen do not want to talk about it. They have always been scared and never had much spine unfortunately, barring odd ones like Rahul Bajaj and few others. The rest keep saying flattering things about the government. We have never heard even a whimper from influential trade bodies like CII, ASSOCHAM and FICCI. It is a fact that India Inc. hasn’t helped its own cause. They are whispering their grievances and hoping the media will fight their battle.”
It is high time entrepreneurs and trade bodies showed the spine to call a spade a spade and stood up for what was right. Doling out 10 out of 10 and sometimes even 15 out of 10 for every government initiative and being generous with electoral bonds do not seem to have helped. Genuflection and appeasement have to stop in your own interest.