Published: 13th May 2020
India under Modi will emerge out of the crisis successfully: T V Mohandas Pai on TNIE's Expressions
The venture capitalist and educationist was in conversation with TNIE's Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla and author and columnist Shankkar Aiyar
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will enable India to power through the COVID-19 crisis and emerge as a winner, said a very confident T V Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Aarin Capital Partners and Manipal Global Education. He was in conversation with Prabhu Chawla, Editorial Director, The New Indian Express and author and columnist Shankkar Aiyyar on The New Indian Express' webinar series Expressions.
"He (Modi) has cleaned up India substantially. There is less corruption and now it is the time to grow India. During a crisis, it is easier to push through decisions," said Pai. "There is no other leader in the country who can take things forward. After his big speech yesterday, where he spoke about the Rs 20 Lakh Crore package, it is clear that he understands the problem. No one else has the will, vision and strength to push things forward and take unpopular decisions," he added, even as Prabhu Chawla wondered when we will see his "economic masterstrokes" to match his political ones.
The Prime Minister had addressed the nation on Tuesday, where he announced the Rs 20 Lakh Crore package
A few hours prior to the webinar, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had held a press conference where she had unveiled the details of the economic stimulus package to boost India's dented economy. When Chawla asked why the FM had steered clear of giving a "simple, easy to understand" breakdown of the package in "non-babu language", Pai said, "We have to wait for another three to four days to pass judgment on this. The MSMEs have been taken care of now and there will be massive spending on the infrastructure." However, he added that the indication was that the government of India had not shown too much concern for its middle class. "I don't think people like you and I are going to get anything. I don't think the government is concerned about the middle class," he added.
Pai was in conversation with Prabhu Chawla and Shankkar Aiyar
Pai, who spoke at length at how COVID had shaken things up, also said that the government must implement a review mechanism to ensure a successful rebuilding of a post-COVID economy and to ensure this Rs 20,000 crore stimulus reaches people and doesn't just remain on paper. "The Prime Minister has to take the hard decision here, or else the promises will just remain promises. There must be a review mechanism every 15 days to see our projects are implemented," he said.
Expanding on this, Pai added that the bureaucrats in the country have been trying to create more power for themselves rather than implementing policies. "I technically agree (on abolishing the IAS from the system)," says Pai in response to a question from Chawla about whether the whole IAS structure should be dismantled. "Political leaders are not in control of our country, In most countries, they (politicians) dictate the policy, while the bureaucrats dictate it in India. Barring the PM, the other ministers can't push the secretaries to do what they want. Bureaucrats are famous for creating more power for themselves," he added.
The debate then turned to the question of income tax - which has been an intense part of the discussion in economic circles as a means to reduce the fiscal distress. Pai was of the opinion that the tax system in the country needs urgent reform. "The government must get the trust of the income taxpayer first. They should get their tax refunds within 30 days of filing their taxes. Also, don't keep targets for the tax collectors," said Pai. "The tax officers have got more power in the last five years. They can arrest you. We are all living in fear. I hope the Prime Minister knows all this and make sure that the power lies with the politicians and not the bureaucrats," he added.