While the Startup India Standup India event moves on, we witnessed a rather interesting Q&A session between entrepreneurs and country’s top bureaucracy. The session saw the policymakers answer some really intelligent — and sometimes barbed — questions from the community. Lets take a look at a comprehensive coverage of the session.
The event kicked off with the audience addressing the revenue secretory and asking him about the current state of the [startup] system and when will the system be conducive enough so that ” A startup from Singapore will move to India.” The Revenue secretory stated that after PM Modi’s address — which is scheduled for 6PM in the evening — contribute 50 percent towards our aim of making the system better while the budget will take care of the remaining 50 percent of the issue.
The panel also addressed questions pertaining to the rather difficult procedures for the subsidiaries of companies which are domiciled in India but have moved out of the country. The questions mainly dealt with how processes for companies, including Mergers & Acquisitions were made much difficult thanks to convoluted laws. The panel responded by stating that the startup program promised to be a real game changer and would make things easier all around, leading to greater job opportunities and investments — including from foreign VCs.
The panel also addressed concerns that were raised on the issue of the difficulties faced by the company that wants to leave the country and make an exit and said that the recent announcements b the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will certainly help in that direction.
Upon the topic of how startups were mostly limited to the hub cities — the likes of Delhi, Bangalore etc — and the movement wasn’t really as widespread as it should have been, the Secretory H.R.D. ministry, stated that the government wishes to provide guidance and hand-holding so as to bring about a gradual change in focus upon research and implementation, also emphasizing that the next few months will see a stronger ecosystem emerge.
The secretory for science and technology Prof. Ashutosh Sharma talked at length about the rehabilitation programs for startups that fail — which vastly outnumber those that succeed — and said that his ministry was running a high-risk high-gain program that encouraged businesses to take calculated risks with the understanding that the government was there to back them up in case of failure.
Another question, which was welcomed by applause from the audience dealt with the registration process for companies, which can take years to conclude. The Secretory of Corporate affairs, while acknowledging the defects of the system added that his department was working hard to streamline the process.
Of the 39 rules which are considered, we have automated 26 and removed 5
Leaving just 8 rules for the time-consuming, manual consideration process. He further added that the department wanted to ensure that the registration of new companies could be completed within 24 hours and that Infosys was already working on a system that could facilitate this.
On the topic of Micro enterprises, the panel stressed upon the need to improve quality stating that,
Do not look at a Quota system, rather work to improve quality.
As per the Zero effect, zero defect model. Anup K. Pujari, Secratory, MSME also brought the attention of the audience to the governments procurement policy of 2012 which mandates a minimum procurement of 15% material from medium and micro small entrepreneurs, for all government departments.
J.S.Deepak, Secretory, Department of Electronics and IT, also talked about the establishment of a corpus fund.
Our two focus areas will be- funding and incubation. We are focused on being the best in this area. We have announced the electronic development fund with the corpus of $500M. This include the possibilities of startups in areas where we import as well.
Finally, the panel tried hard to assuage the fears associated with the protection of intellectual property and how the processes involved in obtaining a patent could be time-consuming and tiresome. Apparently, almost 1000 patent observers have already been recruited by the government and a substantial portion of the work related to Intellectual Property Protection has being outsourced to the IITS. The panel promised trademark dependency down to zero within a year and IPP handling capabilities equivalent to that of the US and Japan — which see the largest number of patents — within 18 months.
All in all, a very enlightening session and one which has raised our hopes for the Indian startup ecosystem and our opinions of the people framing the policies.