Since my last edit, much has happened in corporate India to shake our belief in attaining the US $ 5 trillion dream. Last week will certainly go down as one of the saddest in the annals of modern Indian corporate history. A first generation visionary who set up a successful business model, touching lives of poor people whom he employed and trained, could not withstand the regulatory cholesterol that continues to haunt us – 28 years post the opening up of Indian economy. Talking of ease of doing business, India’s ranking has improved from 100 in 2017 to 77 this year but the ground reality despite the government’s efforts needs much more confidence building measures.
Several Indian corporates and high net worth individuals have successfully pursued impactful social work voluntarily. Several educational institutions, mid-day meal schemes, hospitals are run by charitable organizations. Natural calamities have always seen even ordinary people whole-heartedly contributing. Section 135 of the Companies Act has been amended prescribing a three-year jail term for relevant personnel of private organizations for failing to appropriately spend CSR funds. The arguably draconian step will further embolden the regulators and not help the cause of gullible entrepreneurs who might continue to face harassment of a different kind. One could argue saying many other laws have penal provisions and this is no different. But, an act of omission other than payment of taxes should not negatively impact businessmen who create jobs and pay taxes but fail to spend a defined 2% towards CSR.
Some good news. After years of deliberations and procedural delays, the Code on Wages Bill, 2019 finally got passed by both houses of Parliament. Once it becomes an Act, and that’s going to happen shortly, the bill would make four labor laws – Minimum Wages Act, Payment of Wages Act, Payment of Bonus Act, Equal Remuneration Act – irrelevant. It will not only bring in transparency through digital payment of wages but also put an end to discrimination between genders (including transgenders) on the payment of wages. It’s now time to expedite the other three proposed labor codes – social security, industrial safety and welfare, and industrial relations – to further improve the ease of doing business and bring workers from unorganized and informal sector into the fold of statutory norms.
Another positive development occurred last week wherein the Parliament passed a bill (named The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2019) repealing 58 archaic laws. This is in line with the Centre’s objective of repealing 1,824 archaic laws over a period of time. Till date, 1,428 out of these have been repealed. It will prevent misuse of archaic laws at the hands of government officials to harass common people. Certainly, a ‘must-to-do’ step in the right direction. Hope, this step of ensuring ‘minimum government’ fructifies.
It’s seen the world over that market and economy despite all its elements of indifference and practical insinuations behave like a vulnerable, naïve human while hit by sentiments. The most important contribution of the strong central government will be to maintain a positive environment wherein businesses will not be hounded by witch-hunting regulators but facilitated by them to reach their potential of employment generation, society building and tax generation. Decades later, we would not wish to remember ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ as mere slogan akin to ‘garibi hatao’.
I’m happy to share with you that India Employer Forum (IEF) is hosting its first conclave on the topic, Reimagining Human Capital, on August 21st, 2019 from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm at Hotel Conrad, Ulsoor, off MG Road, Bengaluru. Teamlease Services is the knowledge partner. Manish Sabharwal (Chairman & Co-founder of Teamlease Services) will deliver the keynote address. Eminent industry leaders – Shalini Pillay (Office Managing Partner for Bangalore-KPMG-India), Priya Gopalakrishnan (CHRO-Arvind Fashions Ltd), Amit Sharma (VP-HR, Volvo Group) and Abhishek Mehrotra (VP, Head-HR, Huawei Technologies India Pvt Ltd) – will participate in the panel discussion moderated by Rituparna Chakraborty (EVP & Co-founder, Teamlease). Hope to see you at the conclave.
Editor- India Employer Forum