Of recovery, reforms, opportunities & future…

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November was hectic for MMA with a flurry of activities and celebrations. Cyclone Nivar was kind to us and caused less destruction than anticipated. Kudos to the Metrological department for the job well done; they issued frequent, precise and detailed weather bulletins. In Tamil Nadu, and in particular in Chennai, heavy rains are always expected in November extending till December. Vehicles struggling through water logged roads are a common sight. Although advising people to stay indoors, declaring holidays and so on are necessary precautionary steps, the Government has a higher responsibility too in maintaining good roads and preventing infrastructure bottlenecks.
Covid-19 has taken an unprecedented toll on most segments of the economy. It is encouraging that economists expect Indian economic contraction to be narrower in the last quarter. However, the present trend suggests that the economic recovery could be losing steam and that the stress in the job market would continue. While the Government has announced a number of stimulus measures to sustain and revive the MSMEs sector, there is a clear consensus among policy makers, industry leaders and other stakeholders that MSMEs must be given the appropriate long-term support and enabling environment if the country has to progress sustainably and equitably. The focus of MMA has also been on empowering these sectors.
Economic recovery will hinge on the sustainability of demand after the festival season. Restrictions on mobility imposed by local authorities to curb a second wave of Covid–19 cases could dampen the movement of people and crimp demand, at least till a vaccine is widely available. With India planned to scale up and surge ahead on the economic front, great emphasis should be on infrastructure development. A robust and effective urban mobility solution with sustainability and social innovation as its key ingredient will pivot development.

Industry bodies are opposing it (labour law reforms) tooth and nail. The Bill is a reminder to quickly make changes on the HR front or face business disruption.

It is essential that the Covid-19 vaccine be made available at an affordable cost and equitably across the globe. It is also imperative that WHO and world leaders rein in commercial interests in the medical industry and make them see reason rather than their balance sheet. Early development of the vaccine could stave off these risks and help revive the economic faster.
No goal has riveted eyeballs quite like the “Hand of God” one scored—or stolen—by the Argentine football legend, Diego Maradona. While Maradona has no doubt earned a place as an all-time football great, there are lessons for us on coping with fame. Most of us are ill equipped to handle this and are often left to find our own ways in an unfamiliar world, leading to emptiness and loneliness. Gabriel García Márquez has rightly called it the “Solitude of Fame.” This is the irony of stardom failing to balance fame with peace of mind and good health. In this context, please do watch the event organized by MMA on the theme “The Science of Mind Management” by Swami Mukundananda. Maradona will be remembered for his magic with the soccer ball. He lived his life on his own terms and will be sorely missed.
Labour law reforms are set to change industrial relations (IR) in the country. The details of the labour law reforms have been described and critically analysed in many forums, including MMA. Watching the MMA event on “Labour Law Reforms and Industrial Relations,” it dawned on me that the codes are based on the fundamental unproven premises that labour law and inspector systems are obstacle in attracting investments and the Government must, therefore, promote a cheaper and flexible labour market. The codes are set to rule the IR system for long unless the Government changes the rule. The state Governments have started looking inward—the Haryana Assembly has already passed a bill, which if implemented require private companies in the state to offer 75% of new employment to local candidates with a pay ceiling of Rs. 50,000/- per month. Industry bodies are opposing the bill tooth and nail. The bill is a reminder to quickly make changes on the HR front or face business disruption.
The 15-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEPA) was signed in November without India’s presence; we had opted to stay out after withdrawing from negotiations in July. It is true that the agreement did not satisfactorily address India’s concern about the import of dairy and agriculture products. India is also worried about the impact of Chinese imports. The positive outcome of RCEP should not be glossed. India should not put the clock back now by embracing protectionism. It is also pertinent to note that Japan, South Korea, Australia and many ASEAN Nations have joined RCEP by setting aside their differences with Beijing to take advantage of the post-Covid economic opportunities, and New Delhi too should consider re-joining the trade bloc after some tough bargaining. At the same time, India should spruce up its industries with more economic reforms and ensure strict quality control, to meet the competition once trade barriers are lifted.
This year’s Management Students Convention is scheduled on Thursday, 17th December 2020. It will be an online event with the theme: “India Tomorrow–The Road Ahead for Young Indians.” A galaxy of distinguished speakers has agreed to address the student delegates. The convention will provide insights into strategies and prepare students for an inspiring career. I convey my sincere best wishes to the delegates and all the very best in their future endeavours. Our country’s future lies in their vision.
Let me know what you think about everything that’s happening at MMA. Send me an email at ed@mmachennai.org.