As India entered phase three of the lockdown owing to the coronavirus, allowing relaxations to some activities, the key voices of India Inc came together to discuss how to revive the economy and save jobs without jeopardising the battle against the novel coronavirus which have affected over 46,000 people in the country. In this session of India Today e-Conclave – Jumpstart India, the key personalities speak about the economy, migrants, SMEs, and the financial services sector.
In this session, the eminent panelists included Uday Shankar, President of The Walt Disney Company, APAC and Chairman, Star & Disney India, Rashesh Shah, Edelweiss Group CEO, Sangita Reddy, President of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Harsh Pati Singhania, MD of JK Paper Limited, Indian Banker Naina Lal Kidwai, and Sulajja Firodia Motwani, CEO of Kinetic Green Energy & Power Solutions Limited.
Rahul Kanwal: Hello and welcome. You’re watching jumpstart India. The India today e-conclave as sales crush, revenue stank, and cash flows dry up India Inc wonders what happens next? We’ve embarked upon phase 3 of the great Indian lockdown and the biggest question now is how do we start reviving the economy without jeopardizing the fight against the coronavirus. Joining us for this very important conversation is a heavyweight tunnel of key voices of India Inc.
Rahul Kanwal: Big business thinks that a lot of focus has been on micro and small medium enterprises and that bigger companies, too, desperately need help. I want to start by asking Uday, aboit each of the sectors and then dive into what needs to be done going forward to try and revive the economy. So they if you can kick start this conversation by explaining what’s been happening largely in the media sector, how much of an impact are you seeing as a result of the pandemic in one of the trends in India at this moment.
Uday Shankar: Thank you Rahul. I think media sector has seen an unprecedented devastation between the three segments of entertainment news and information and live sports. Two of them are totally shut and those are the most popular segments as you know there’s no functioning happening. There is no television production happening. There is no live sports happening. News is the only thing that’s working and on the advertising side, because there is no manufacturing no distribution, no retailing, as a result of that, there is really very little advertising happening.
So, you know, the advertising sector is somewhat of a bellwether sector, you know, it represents what happens to the industry and it generally tells you the story earlier than any other sector. So, because the first thing that people do when tough times come is to cut down their advertising because they don’t see them. If they don’t see that, there is a purpose to advertising by way of selling more goods. They start cutting down on that and we’ve seen widespread discontinuation of advertising all over so, you know advertising today is barely 20 percent of what of the normal levels. And going forward we suspect that it might get even worse.
Rahul Kanwal: Rashesh Shah, can you give us a sense of what’s happening in the financial services sector, especially in the stock markets we’ve seen. After an unprecedented fall in April, there’s been a sharp rise just over the past few weeks and people are wondering, scratching their heads and wondering what’s changed so dramatically. How are you making sense of the jump that we’re seeing. What’s been happening in your view in the financial services?
Rashesh Shah: I think overall as you know, they said this is a very unprecedented environment and I think April is April 2020 will go down in history as a month that I don’t think anybody in business or industry has ever experienced.
A lot of companies, there revenues came down to zero. Companies were almost in a shock. So I think when they started around the last week of March, it also happened to be the end of the financial year for us which was which is very crucial week in any case, I think there was a state of shock and investors all over the world, not just in India, just could not comprehend or understand how much impact, how much devastation this is going to cause. But what has happened in the last few weeks in India and globally, a lot of the intervention has happened because of the government of India, other governments, central banks have stepped in and at least assure that they are prepared to do whatever it takes.
Of course, we in India need to do a lot more and we can talk about it on liquidity as well as stimulus and all but I think April gave a sense of comfort that things may not get very, very bad not as much as we markets and industries that panicked earlier.
Rahul Kanwal: What’s giving the markets hope because at this moment, you don’t know how soon industrial activity will kick-start. Demand is uncertain. We don’t know when consumers will go back to market and start purchasing and yet somehow the stock market’s seems to believe that things aren’t quite as bad as everyone believes they are. So what is it in stock markets figuring that nobody else is?
Rashesh Shah: Yeah, and I think even markets are always hard to understand because they are so many voices get synthesized out there. But I think overall what happened April is what I’m saying. I think in March and early April, people panicked. They expected the worse. I think now the sense is that a) with the reserve bank and other central banks stepping in, people think there is a flow to how bad economic activity can get, b) people know that things were as bad as they can get in April.
Very often the markets are forward looking rather than backward looking. What you said is absolutely right, consumers may not come back, they panic and getting confident will take time. But we saw this in April. It was a month with zero sales. With the interventions from central banks and government in interest rates coming down especially for India, I think of three good things that are happening for India is a) oil prices have come down.
In the long term, this is great for India, b) inflation is always been a problem and we are no longer talking about inflation so, RBI is free to cut rates, inject liquidity without really worrying about inflation and c) as the global supply chains reorient themselves away from China just from a risk diversification point of view, India could be and I should say could be, not automatically we will be, but India could be one of the beneficiaries after the initial shock is over.
People are saying maybe things will not get as bad as we feared. It is painful but will improve.
Rahul Kanwal: Dr Sangita Reddy, there’s been so much focus during this pandemic on the healthcare sector, the pharmaceutical sector and yet hospitals chains are crying because of Covid-19 patients’, the regular businesses have been hit. Can you at the outset give us a sense of how your sector is grappling with this pandemic and what are the issues you’re noticing?
Sangita Reddy: The fact of the matter is that the numbers are very frightening impact because on one hand, you have many hospitals who had zero revenue will be no income especially the smaller nursing home. They all have significant bank loans. They definitely have to maintain their entire staff and team.
Those who are working with Covid patients are now having to spend a lot more because covid protection equipment, new medicine need training and also from now onwards the protection which we need to be taken to ensure that other infected patients don’t come and infect the other patients at the hospitals. So, hospitals are definitely facing a significantly challenging time right now and need support. They need encouragement.
Rahul Kanwal: What kind of support is required we get to it in just a moment, but before that I want to go across to Harsh Pati Singhania understand for the entire JK group in since there’s so many Diversified portfolios that you deal with and also especially for the paper industry. What are the kind of problems you are noticing and how you dealing with them during the period of a pendulum.
Harsh Pati Singhania: Basically the issue as my colleagues have said is that everything came to a standstill. So, actually there was no manufacturing across all our businesses barring a couple of businesses before an essential services and which is true not just for a group for all of India. So I don’t think anybody’s ever had a situation when every manufacturing activity is virtually come to a standstill.
Now be that as it may. So today, you have industry which has overheads, which have boss, and with zero revenue, how do you manage that? So, that is the real issue. Along with this, we have to now you talk about lockdown 3.0. Let me rephrase it: It is opening up 3.0 now, which is the good news. And therefore, we now need to see how we’re going to get businesses back.
The issue Rahul is that starting up a manufacturing enterprise is somewhat easier than the front end, which is the selling side. So really what we need at this point is how do you create demand? And how do we generate demand and how do we bring confidence amongst people. Consumer, society, you and me that it is okay, and we need to get back because one aspect is right.
Even after the lockdown is over and even after these two weeks when you and I step out onto the streets is not that the coronavirus is gone. It is not something which is going away. So we’ll have to live with it and within this environment, how do we normalize economic activity.
Rahul Kanwal: In a global context, how badly hit is the Indian economy when compared with other countries and especially those in the relatively similar weight category. We have had the most stringent lockdown and that also means that the economy is being shut more so than elsewhere.
Naina Lal Kidwai: It just the magnitude that hits us here you know that we take pride and hoping that our GDP estimates for the year are 1.7 percent and there are many countries that are going to be in negative territory but don’t forget that we have falling from you know seven to five and down to 1.7. These countries were already down at 0.1 percent level before they have gone. So the magnitude of fall for a country like ours is actually more of a worry.
I would just say that the lockdown has been a great success in terms of what it set out to achieve. The challenge now is to make sure that we can get industries up and running at the earliest. We’ve heard some great job observations by my colleagues both supply side and demand side and I would really just say as you look at this, there’s a FICCI study which suggests that 60 per cent of industry believes it’ll take nine months to get back to normalcy and the balance 40 per cent are at one year.
So, what we have to try and do is to ensure that we can shorten the period by which the industries gets that to normalcy and for that it is going to require a herculean but highly achievable challenge if government and industry work together, but the fact is that support is needed. It is needed today by MSMES or by large industries is a given and the sooner we can get this going the better.
Rahul Kanwal: Sulajja Firodia Motwani, the auto sector in particular and I’m not just talking about kinetic energy but auto sector per se was already facing massive high winds even before the pandemic and now companies after companies are reporting zero sales. Zero not as a metaphor but zero as a literal numeric zero for the month of April.
How badly hit I each of the companies given the flat sales zero sales and what are you making of the trends during the pandemic.
Sulajja Firodia Motwani: It is an unprecedented situation and we were already suffering from a very poor year due to various macroeconomic factors and this lockdown and the virus has come at a really bad time. The industry is really concerned now about ability to get restarted and the ability to generate demand. There is a great concern.
When I speak about to restarting, you know, right now, there are some relaxation that have been announced but if you look at the areas in which the auto industry operates, most of the zones are in Red.
Secondly, most of us suppliers are in various areas. And unless you open up the supply chain as well as the dealerships, there is no point in starting manufacturing. It’s like you need all the parts if you are making a car. You can’t have a car without the steering wheel.
So I think that it would be quite important to work together. If you look at the entire sector and have an end-to-end solution of restarting the economy and the automotive sector in particular, will the suppliers to be able to commence operations?
We need our dealers to be able to sell the vehicles and I think this would be a lot of effort and of coordination between the industry and the government to see that important sectors like auto sectors are given all the support and to be able to start quickly and to get production up and running and also to bring customers back to the showrooms to bring labor back to the factories. So I think I have a big task ahead of us and with all the efforts we can only expect to recover some of the losses that we have seen in the last few months.
Rahul Kanwal: So, in the first 10 minutes we go to cross-sectorial sense of the problems that different sectors are facing and I want to deal with what can be done immediately to start ventilating the Indian economy. Now, there rarely has there been such a simultaneous social and economic destruction in the country. This is like the social shocks, economic shocks. What is your idea about what can be done right away to try and start reviving the different sectors of the economy in particular the media sector?
Uday Shankar: Lockdown has been absolutely necessary. It’s been an absolute success. Now we need to do something equally radical in order to kick-start the economy because we should appreciate the fact that it’s not a pause. Well, it’s a reset and everything every part will have to be kicked back into action because it won’t start firing again by itself.
So about restarting the whole supply chain for manufacturing to start happening, you know from the suppliers all the way up to the dealer. But it’s the same thing about the economy because our economy is so integrated that it’s tough to take a slice of it and say okay, we will start right now.
It’s not a modular economy because you need people. We decided to do a lockdown. Lockdown was a unilateral decision by the government, highly required and very successful. But to restart, you need to collaborate everybody, you know, the people who work. Migrant labourers whether the blue collar, white collar or whatever. People first need to come to the plants for things to start happening. Even in my sector, for instance, not a single television show or film is being made today. And these shows to be made, they need representation from all walks of life and people come from all parts of the country to make a show.
So a makeup artist who’s probably a migrant from Eastern UP or Bihar, if person has gone away, that person needs to come back and so does the technician and so does everyone else. So, we need you know, it’s not an easy problem to solve because of the-inter linkages and people have gone away. They need to be first be confident that it’s okay to come back.
Rahul Kanwal: You said that the dramatic problem requires a dramatic solution. So what are your out of the box ideas about what these dramatic solution can be which is also feasible and doable for the government.
Uday Shankar: So I think we need to start stimulating both supply and demand. The earning of people have been disrupted very badly. For instance it could be six weeks and a few more weeks before they start coming back to work. Incomes have gone, it’s totally dry. We need to put money in their hands. The government has done a great job of putting some money so that they survive but a lot more needs to be done on that front and a lot more needs to be done in urban areas.
Sometimes, we equate poverty with rural and we forget about the degrading and absolutely brutal effects of poverty because in an urban area, if you do not learn something it’s difficult to survive. We need to make sure that these people are brought back. These people have the ability to support themselves. They are unsure of getting their employment and it’s not an easy problem.
We’ve been hearing noises around that everybody needs to get everything installed but after some time, entrepreneurs and business owners will just run out of capacity. I will give you an example that you know, we have about 8 to 10 million people who work in retail sector in India. Delivery boys, salespersons etcetera. They have been out of work. How are they going to get money?
They can’t get money even if we put pressure on their employers to give them money. So, we do need to do a very, very radical program of keep putting money into people’s hands and also supporting entrepreneurs and businesses who have to employ these people.
They have already built a liability. Six-eight months of shutdown of this kind, no matter how important an inevitability call it was, it has also sent businesses back for a long time.
Rahul [to Harsh Pati Singhania]: But, if sector after sector is crying for help, the government’s focus from all accounts in the public domain is on MSMEs. That’s where they need to ensure that companies stay afloat. They are hoping the big boys of India can care of themselves. They have adequate reserves, they have adequate wherewithal to be able to last long without sacking the employees. Do you think that’s feasible or that’s not going to be enough? We’re also expecting some support from the government.
Harsh Pati Singhania: You know, that’s a very important question that you raised because yes, the narrative is clearly that the MSMEs, trades, individual people require a lot of support but not large business. They also require support because not business also needs high costs.
So, you have a very little or zero revenue. You have your employees and besides paying them, you also have to pay the banks and service your loans. So there has to be some support to the large companies.
Rahul Kanwal: No, but when industrialists say this and people in the government listen, they call and say the government resources are limited, GST collections in any case have fallen, our revenues are very, very stretched.
We have to first overcome this crisis, spend on healthcare, ensure that people survive and companies also have to understand that there’s a limit to what the government can do it this time.
Harsh Pati Singhania: Absolutely, absolutely understand and let me put it very bluntly, I will not like to be in the prime minister’s or policymakers shoes because it is not easy at this point in time but having said so, why I am talking about large businesses are several reasons.
One is that a large business is a fulcrum around which the entire ecosystem of MSMEs, suppliers, dealers, ultimately the consumers is linked and that is a very large part of employment. I am not saying all businesses. Let’s say the companies that are already making losses. If they go under, that problem is not a business problem alone. It is a problem that comes on to banks and from the bank’s you have the issue of MPS.
Ultimately, it ravages the economy. It is important enough, I understand the revenues but today is extraordinary, normal economic measures won’t work.
In the US, they are actually buying out companies debts. In the UK, the government is giving a certain percentage of each company to say all right, this is what you will give you, it’s my support. This is what we will give you to support especially in such situations.
Rahul Kanwal: So, you walked across geographies and people in the government listening to the likes of Harsh Pati Singhania will say you cannot compare what the Indian financial system in the Indian government can deliver with what’s happening in Europe, what’s happening in America, what’s happening in Japan. We are not in the same category. We are multiple restrictions in whatever the best we can do is to keep in mind the limitations in mind the Indian government has to deal with.
Naina Lal Kidwai: I would say that let’s look at what others are doing and then obviously apply it to India for what makes sense. I agree with the what Harsh has to say because at the end of the day, if you take the sector by sector approach, so, if there is a problem in the auto sector, you have to look at it from soup to nuts right down to the MSMEs, the supplier, the dealer or the consumer right up to the manufacturer who is your big guy.
You have to look at the entire chain and to do that you can’t ignore, for example, in the auto sector, you could argue there that they manufacturers are all big boys, let them look after themselves. But in the process when they look after themselves, they’ll be delayed payments to the MSMEs. Isn’t it better that you helped the big guys and ensure that they in turn help the MSMEs early rather than late so that you don’t end up having to support the MSMEs with money for free.
Having said that because there’s been such a setback now over the last couple of months and a sector which was already looking weak as it turns out, our suggestions from FICCI for MSMEs is that we help with interest-free loans for a period and in fact, our studies show that if it’s 1 lakh crore loans, say you take a cost of 8 per cent, it’s about Rs 8,000 crore which is not going to break the bank for the government.
So the government providing some SOP, some support to the MSMEs, on the other hand, the big industries to help the same MSMEs it is dependent on, otherwise, it’s going to be only government supporting MSMEs where actually, you need to get the entire chain supported which will mean less dependence.
Rahul Kanwal [to Sangita Reddy]: Are there any ideas you have to offer about what industry could do to help itself. To seek help from the government is one thing and the government says they’re in the process of putting out a second stimulus package in the multiple weeks to come. What are the ideas that you have about how the industry can collaborate across sectors to try and make life a little easier and to try and lessen the expectations and the burden of the government.
Sangita Reddy: The industry by the nature of itself springs into action. The textile manufacturers are now manufacturing PPEs. There’s a social intent. Also now people in defence and auto mobile are looking at the possibility of medical equipment manufacturing.
Everybody is talking about it being unprecedented, they are not talking about creating a new rule book. Why aren’t thinking of creating a significant surplus and use that surplus to support business continuity and build new industries for the future. Unless you keep the industries alive, the people, the economy and the country will suffer. The longer you wait, the tougher it is going to recover.
First, put money in the hands of these migrants. Second, ensure that there is continuity for the MSMEs and for the large sector. Third and the most important is, please look after your healthcase because if you lose your healthcare security, you have lost too much for the country.
Rahul Kanwal [to Rashesh Shah]: The financial sector was already stressed. The ghost of bad loans hanging over the NBFC sector. Now after what happened with Franklin Templeton, we have seen a bit of a meltdown in the corporate sector. What do you think should be done more at the fiscal level by the government to try and ensure that there is solidarity, there is strength and some sense of confidence in financial services sector?
Rashesh Shah: Absolutely. Actually, you’ve raised a very important part because you know financial system is like a blood the body. The liquidity needs to flow and what we have seen over the last 18 months but also over the last few weeks is there is an extreme amount of risk aversion.
So if you see, you know, the economy like we all talked about opening up again but I always believed the closing was maybe easier because it was very binomial. It was one single shot you closed the economy. But opening up is going to be very gradual, very calibrated and the central government, the state governments, the industries, the workers, we all have to revive the confidence for the opening up to happen.
You can’t open up by order, you have to open up by installing confidence. One of the ways to instill confidence is to get cash flows started, get liquidity started because in the month of April, cash flows have dried down. The companies’ cash inflow were about five-ten per cent of normal, but the cash outflows were 30-40 percent of normal.
So, I think we need to get the liquidity flowing. What RBI has done is a good thing. They have tried to pump liquidity, but unfortunately, we have a financial system which is very banking dependent.
Look if you look at credit flow in the economy that come via mutual fund via the bond market that come via the NBFC via banks.With the Templeton issue, the bond markets also got dislocated.
Rahul Kanwal: What’s the solution? Because credit offtake was already at a historic low for about two decades. There hasn’t been a credit offtake as low as this even before the pandemic. Now to that trouble has got added the virus. How do you watch the vaccine that you can inject into the financial services sector?
Rashesh Shah: So basically, like we say there has to be somebody providing liquidity of the last resort. We need somebody to even backstop wristlet. For example, MSME loans and all that, if the banks are not keen on taking the risk, we need credit guarantee, we need announcements for MSME loans. This is not new. This is happening all over the world. Governments and central banks are saying we are the risk takers of the last resort. Somebody has to take the risk. If you ask how do we reopen again, we need to get confidence back. We need to get liquidity back.
Rahul Kanwal: You spoke about the need to revive demand but confidence in demand on buttons, you can switch on and off at a time when people are worried about whether they will have a job. It’s highly unlikely that somebody will say, let me go out and buy an electric two-wheeler, a three-wheeler because I myself don’t know whether I will have a job or not. So therefore, how can you revive demand when there is so much uncertainty about the job market?
Sulajja Firod: It’s a very valid point and I think that’s the first thing that we need to do. I think we need to first start saying that we are ready to jump start but the focus has been on saving lives. I think the focus should be on saving livelihoods, right from the top leadership of the nation leaders of our state and all across.
I think the message has to go out that we are ready to jump start that we want to get the economy going. We want to open businesses. We want to try to return to a normal life and learn to live with the virus and or maybe a nationalistic message that nothing can stop India because I think people are in a fear psychosis. They need to start feeling better. They need to start getting more confident.
I think this is the most urgent need of the hour that there is a positive rhetoric or narrative which is confident that start spreading over the next few weeks through media and through all the leaders. And then the second thing is speed an urgency.
I think the urgency to kick-start the economy has to be shown at all levels. Problems have to be solved with whatever support the government can afford.I think businesses are on ventilators and MSMEs and large businesses are on ventilators. So, I think they had to act before the patient dies and we need to take the decisions and we need to keep it simple.
The problem is complex, but some of the simpler solutions can be implemented very quickly so that we can think about as I said bringing the customers back and bringing the people back to work and I think that is the first mind-set we need to work on all across the nation.
Rahul Kanwal: Now one of the key challenges is to give employees and industries a clear roadmap about what happens next so that they can plan how to start reviving their companies but the problem is that you are dealing with an invisible enemy, the virus has a mind of its own, it’s not under anybody’s control. Therefore, how do you revive confidemce, how do you lay out a clear graded roadmap when there’s an invisible enemy who’s willing and waiting to strike.
Harsh Pati Singhania: I’m afraid you’ve made a very vital point. Confidence building is the key and this has to go across sections of society. It is not an issue of business or workers. It is you and me as citizens. If we have to go out, if the shops are open, we need to go there, we need to be confident that I go over and nothing is going to happen to me because the reality is the virus is not going to go away.
So, we all need to work together to do this messaging to explain this to people and it is the government, the media, every business which will have to do this.
The second is as money starts flowing and when people have greater confidence that they can actually spend money and they don’t have to look only at a survival mode then they start becoming more confident in terms of going out and creating demand.
So I would say that these two are critical factors in generating confidence in doing this.
Rahul [to Uday Shankar]: How do we ensure the job losses are minimized. The government so far has given a diktat that you can’t sack but that’s not working because several companies especially the smaller and medium-sized companies are laying off or sending people on furlough. What’s your sense of how to deal with this problem in the larger economy and ensure that job losses are minimized to be extended that is possible.
Uday Shankar: First and foremost, I think we have to recognize that it’s a brutal reality that if people can’t afford to pay their employees, they won’t be able to pay their employees even if they get arrested or even if they are shot before a firing squad. If they can’t pay, they can’t pay and that’s the situation right from the individuals who employ in their domestic capacity to the businesses big and small and in between.
You hire people because you use them to produce more, to sell more and to make more money, but clearly getting rid of people is an option of the last resort. Some kind of acceptance, socially everyone should be aware and I think it was the right thing for the government to say that in the middle of the lockdown, as far as possible, people should not be laid off so that they can have the certainty of some earning.
But that cannot be a perpetual situation unless there is some kind of support, some kind of comfort after all there are governments across the world that are trying to step up and help people, you know, pick up the pick up the salary bills and it’s the really important in this country that we do this at all levels.
Without that, I don’t think we will be able to carry on with the same number of employees with much lower production with much lower sales and this is a massive setback to business, you know, if life has changed, business cannot be as usual. That’s the most important thing.
Second thing that we need to recognize is that you know, it’s important to make sure that every level, there is some capacity for people to feel bold. There is a huge fear on account of the virus and then if there is fear that if we do something, and my business fails, then it’s going to be a massive problem. So, the government needs to step in there and build an environment and create concrete initiatives to ensure that people are given the confidence that enterprises can go out and do what they’re good and if they fail, they will be looked after.
Rahul [to Naina Lal Kidwai]: One of the things that we’re hearing from government is this is opportunity for India to try and get some of the manufacturing that’s now moving out of China and bring that to India because global value chains are being reordered but this has been true for a long time now. We haven’t been able to capitalize so far most of the manufacturing going to countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Myanmar but not coming to India. What do you think the government should do at this moment to try and turn that promise to reality?
Naina Lal Kidwai: I think first and foremost is our market itself is a very important market. So to the extent that we were importing goods from China and as you know that China was next to the USA in terms of where we were importing goods, let’s at least look at substituting that in terms of manufacture in India and I say this because today we don’t know which countries are going to put barriers, artificial or otherwise, in terms of exports because that is the big change in the world right now.
So, maybe we can’t build our hopes on new exports and supply chains right away much as we must continue to look at it, but at a minimum, we can see get that manufacturer which doesn’t rely on other parts of the world but feeds the Indian market and I think you know, it’s toys, its furniture and small goods, it’s all kinds of things which we can absolutely manufacturer here. I think looking at that opportunity is one.
I think there’s another thing we can learn from China. It is how quickly Wuhan bounced back and let’s look at those mechanisms because I still, you know, take heart from the fact that if 9 to 12 months is what people in industry, who were polled by FICCI believe, is what it takes to return to normalcy, that isn’t bad. It’s not like a recession after World War which goes on three to five years for us in the country.
Rahul Kanwal: But one of the things is to ensure that there’s enough containment, there’s enough tracing and you know exactly who’s a threat. Now if you saw what happened when liquor shops will opened on Monday morning, there were long queues, all social distancing went for a toss.
When you compare with Wuhan, we must also keep in mind the reality of what’s likely to happen in India the moment people feel ‘okay the lockdowns lifted, I can go’. We saw a glimpse of that just as the liquor vends opened pan India.
So, how do we bounce back then? Is there any parallel at all, is there anything we can learn from China. Do you think it’s not applicable in the Indian context at all?
Sangita Reddy: I think there are many lessons to learn and I think in that Indian context, we are using power of media with all of you have. Shop should open. However, wearing a mask and social distancing is a matter of saving your own life.
I think the decision of lockdown, planned by the prime minister, it was a great decision. The world and history will remember it. The methodology of opening up is the corporate society and the individuals who can make that successful and here’s communication is key.
We have to educate people to live with this and move on to get the confidence. On the earlier point, the confidence must come from some level of back stock from the government. We need create confidence in the business community and the public.
Rahul Kanwal [to Rashesh Shah]: We were already seeing an increase in the level of debt phobia especially in India and globally passed beyond the 2008 financial crisis. We’ve heard that the RBI is trying to ensure that there’s enough liquid.
Everybody says we have liquidity but nobody is taking a loan because they are paranoid which is a good level of debt phobia. Are any ideas around how to deal with that. There’s also a three-month moratorium at this time for increasing principal repayment. To what extent can it be feasibly extended?
Rashesh Shah: Yeah, I think it should be extended. It’s going to take between at least 8-10 months from normalcy to come, we need to be able to give that kind of moratorium to customers but I think what you said is very true. If you want to get the economy started again, you will need credit flow and we are always confusing liquidity is equal to credit flow. Liquidity is required, but it’s not equal to credit flow like we have it now.
We have a lot of liquidity. The banks are putting seven lakh crores back with RBI. It is reverse repo and not being able to give it out as credit to the users of the credits. I think the credit phobia is real. Somebody needs to break the Log Jam and we need to do that to ensure that this healthcare epidemic does not become an economic epidemic.
The economic epidemic may take a long time to solve. We need to forestall that and we need to do things now so that it does not become an epidemic and we and for that I think as you said credit flow, liquidity, confidence and getting the economic started by taking risk is very important and government can take risks. The businesses can take risks and they will also follow through on this to make sure we get our economic started again.
Rahul Kanwal: Let me let me put that question to Ms Motwani because the banks will say we have enough liquidity and no one is coming and taking the credit. How do you think we can work towards trying to instil confidence?
Sulajja Firodia Motwani: It’s not an easy problem to solve but I think it’d have to be some focused efforts. Some of the largest sector that’s like automotive sector, it employs almost 4 crore people, contributes close to the half of the manufacturing sector GDP.
I think the government and Industry can work together in a collaborative manner. There’s not one solution that fits all but if you prioritize certain sectors which are going to bring back their jobs, which are going to bring back business and you know, create demand then I think we can sit across the table with the policymakers and come up with solutions across the table.
You know for the MSMEs in the industry, for the dealers who are facing the customers, for the manufacturers who are taking the risk and investing in further building the business in these uncertain scenarios.
So I think it calls for collaborations, focussed efforts and quick solutions. I think this is really what is required to really get started with, making a difference.
Rahul Kanwal: What we’ve seen over the past one hour are essentially eminently sensible ideas that can be worked on. There is no breast beating about what’s gone wrong rather positive approach about what needs to be done from here on to start bringing the economy back to life and saving jobs clearly a priority in their collaboration between industry, the people we have on our screen right now and the government. Very, very crucial.
Also Read | Lockdown 3.0: Chaos on Day 1 as liquor buyers pour out, India sees highest single-day Covid-19 recovery rate
Also Watch | Top industry leaders share thoughts on how to jumpstart Indian economy