Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday hard sold his government's reforms spanning from manufacturing to taxation to labour, saying they have changed the world perception about the country from 'why India' to 'why not India' and went on to quote record foreign investment during the pandemic as a testimony to that.
Speaking at industry association Assocham's Foundation Week event, PM Modi also said agriculture reforms brought by his government six months back have started benefiting farmers.
The reforms in the last six years have influenced in changing the sentiment of the industry from 'why India' to 'why not India' in investing.
"There was a situation in the past when investors would question 'why India' (for investing in the country). With reforms (of past six years) and their effects, its proposition has changed to 'why not India'," he said.
He cited scrapping of 1,500 old and obsolete laws and farming new ones that are in tune with the changing investment order as an example of his government's outlook.
"Earlier investors cited high tax rates to say ‘why India’ but today (corporate) tax rates are so competitive that they say 'why not India'," he said.
Previously, a web of regulations and rules were cited by investors to ask why to invest in India but easing compliance burden in the new labour laws have made them say 'why not India', he said.
Red tape previously made investors say ‘why India’ but a red carpet is now making them say ‘why not India’, he said.
"From a non-existent culture for innovation to a new ecosystem promoting and nurturing startups has given the world confidence to say 'why not India'.
"Earlier there was so much government interference that investors said ‘why India’. Today the faith reposed by the government in the private sector and encouragement of foreign investors have made the same people say 'why not India'," he said. He stated that new India is pushing towards AatmaNirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India).
The government in September last year cut the headline corporate tax rate to 22 per cent from 30 per cent, and to 15 per cent from 25 per cent for new manufacturing companies.
In September this year, the Parliament passed the labour reforms bill that among other things exempts companies employing up to 300 workers to seek government permission to lay off workers or close plants - a major demand from industry over the years.
Stating that there is a lot of positivity across the globe on India's growth and development, PM Modi said India will play an important role in the global supply chain of vaccines.
Listing recent measures, he said the definition of small businesses has been changed to allow them access to credit while 10 sectors have been given efficiency and production linked incentives. "We have solved liquidity-related issued for MSMEs," he said.
Also, public sector banks are being strengthened and bond markets deepened. Similarly, Sovereign Wealth Funds and Pension Funds are being tax exempted, REITs and INVITs are being promoted and infrastructure-related assets being monetised, he said.
The Prime Minister said the government's main focus is on manufacturing and production linked incentives have been given to 10 sectors to boost domestic capabilities and capacity.
He called on the industry to make all efforts to make India self-reliant.
"Reforms have changed global perception from 'why India' to 'why not India'," he said. "The world trusts the Indian economy. Record FDI and FPI during pandemic testimony of that."
PM Modi asked the industry to adopt the best corporate governance and profit-sharing practices.
He also said investment in research and development (R&D) must be increased and the private sector must scale up investments.
"There is a great need to increase investment in R&D. In the US, 70 per cent of investments in R&D is done by the private sector, in India the same is done by the public sector. A big chunk of this is in the IT, pharma and transport sectors. Today the need is of increasing the private sector share of investment in R&D," he said.
More R&D funds should be set aside across sectors such as agriculture, defence, space, energy, and construction.
"Today when we are on mission mode to make local global, we have to react fast to geopolitical developments. A mechanism has to be developed to see how India can meet any sudden spurt in demand in the global supply chain," he said adding there was a need for better coordination between the Ministry of External Affairs, Commerce and Trade, and industry associations.
PM Modi said the government can provide the necessary facilities, create the right environment, give incentives and change policies. But it is the industry partners, who can convert this support into success.
The government, he said, is continuing efforts to build an efficient and friendly ecosystem.
The Prime Minister remarked that the world is moving rapidly towards the fourth industrial revolution, challenges will come in the form of new technology and many solutions will also come. Today is the time to plan and act, he said.
The coming 27 years, when free India will reach its century, will not only determine India's global role, but it will test both the dreams and dedication of Indians, he said.