New Delhi: “India in Challenging Times : Role of CII” was the theme of the Annual Regional Meeting and Session of the Confederation of Indian Industry, Northern Region, held on 11 April, that included a panel discussion by a line of eminent personalities from the industry, apart from the Union Minister for Panchayati Raj, Sports and Youth Affairs, Mani Shankar Aiyar .
Addressing the gathering, Mani Shankar Aiyar said reforms have so far gone very disproportionately to the most passionate advocates of reforms. Recommending a participatory development process modelled after the Panchayati Raj he said a 9.2% growth may not be sustainable if it was not inclusive growth, taking into consideration the 700 million strong population of poor in the country.
President of CII, R Seshasayee, mapped out the chamber’s commitment towards growth and outlined challenges they face in the immediate future. He echoed the sentiments of minister for commerce and industry, Mr. Kamal Nath, saying that the content of the outcome of Doha Round is even more important than the formal completion of the Round and that India will contribute substantially to the successful conclusion of ongoing negotiations.
He urged trade ministers to build developmental concerns into every subject under negotiations, especially those related to market access and rules. In agriculture he stressed on strengthening export subsidy, domestic support and tariffs. Regarding industrial goods and WTO, the “Swiss formula” for tariff reduction should have a coefficient, which is the average bound tariff of every country to ensure that the mandate for NAMA negotiations in respect of less than full reciprocity and elimination of tariff peaks and tariff escalation is fully respected.
On Services, Mr Seshasayee called upon developed country members to provide meaningful offers in the two modes of supply, which are of great importance to developing countries viz. Mode 1 and Mode 4. Keeping Mode 4 commitments outside the purview of negotiations on the plea that it is a politically sensitive issue for them may seriously jeopardize negotiations.
Sunil Bharti Mittal,Vice President, CII,pointed out while agriculture was a stagnant sector, it was also an area where industry had been systematically kept out. He added while industry would ensure enhanced revenue to the exchequer, the distributive justice has to be the responsibility of the government,reiterating that the reforms process had brought about a widespread growth of entrepreneurship across the country.
Suhel Seth, Managing Partner of Counselage India, while commending the achievements of CII criticized the body for being more power-aligned over the years. He emphasized the need to have proactive thought leadership on issues of social relevance. The CII’s willingness to introspect openly was by itself a huge step forward, reflective of the strength of the organisation.
The discussion, profound, honest and lively as it was, centred a lot on introspection that the members said the chamber should subject itself to, as the country stands on crossroads. The panelists agreed on the point that it was high time for CII to enlarge its agenda, to broaden its space of work and to push for a second generation of reforms.