During a three-day visit to Tamil Nadu ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi interacted with representatives of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu on Saturday.
During this interaction, KE Raghunathan, convenor of Consortium of Indian Associations representing over 3.5 lakh industrial units, shed light on the current plight of MSMEs in India.
“What are we witnessing today in this country? We moved from Skill India to Digital India to Make in India to Atmanirbhar now. And finally, it ended where? Fund India. What is Fund India? FDI. We are asking others to give us money,” he said.
“Out of 7 crore entrepreneurs, MSMEs, 30% are almost dead. What is 30%? 2.1 crore. That 2.1 crore gives jobs to almost 20 crore people. They are not bothered,” Raghunathan told Rahul.
He also said that they are witnessing only the balance 60% and saying ‘green shoots’. “I am seeing shooting myself as an entrepreneur. How are we progressing? What answer will I give to my children?” he added.
Raghunathan pointed out the main problems faced by entrepreneurs are lack of 3Ms – Money, Manpower and Material. “Banks are chasing us, the Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFC) are chasing us. We are unable to open newspapers today,” Raghunathan said.
“You are the only voice for us. Don’t forget it,” he told Rahul.
Raghunathan said that micro industries must have a separate Ministry as it has a presence of 98% in the country. “We (micro industries) cannot be combined with companies having Rs 100 crore turnover,” he said, explaining that micro-business are self-employed people with an annual turnover of less than Rs 5 crore.
Raghunathan expressed that “a dream of a start-up company are shattered” as “we are losing them”. “Today we are uable to raise our voice, not able to express ourselves. We are not being heard and convey our pains. An entrepreneur can never cry openly because if he does he won't get business,” he pointed out asking Rahul to speak on behalf of MSME industry.
While some bigger businessmen are praising the Centre for its initiatives, the reality of micro businessmen in the country is quite the contrary. Although the Reserve Bank of India is predicting a V-shaped recovery for the economy, many aren’t buying it.
Raghunathan shedding light on the crisis faced by many such businessmen to a national leader like Rahul is something we are not hearing enough, especially on national platforms. Barring the exception of Rahul Bajaj, other big businessmen have either praised or kept quiet on the initiatives of the government irrespective of how baldy their businesses are affected.
Even someone like Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami allegedly agreed secretly that the condition of the Indian economy is far from okay. In his leaked chats with ex-BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta tells Arnab “the economy is screwed. “NM/AS should first rejig finance ministry in the second term — the economy is screwed — no matter what we tell outside,” Partho tells Arnab, who agrees and allegedly says that former Finance Minister Arun Jaitely was “the biggest failure”. Ironically, a year later, Arnab on one of his shows tells the audience the GDP and economy are doing fine which in reality wasn’t the case.
Although, the question does arise, why aren’t enough businessmen expressing their plight? Are they afraid that speaking their plight will show the central government in bad light, which could result in these businessmen losing their business? Or are they afraid that the government will use central agencies to harass them? This is an allegation the opposition including Rahul has made time and again.
Many micro businessmen and women have committed suicide as they are unable to pay off their debts similar to that of the farmers. The country cannot go forward with the coordination of the public and the government and working together. If it is one-way traffic, it could hurt the country in the long-term. Having ‘Yes Men’ also does not help those in power as it can lead them down a road filled with potholes that will take a long time to fix.