Partners Column

Dear friends,

In the recent speech by Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam, he gave “pass marks” to the over six-decade old Indian democracy awarding it “five points on a scale of 10”. There are also serious questions on functioning of Indian Democracy. The form of democracy that we have come to follow in India is totally dependent on and confined to the electoral process where the only option to participate in the process of governance available to the people seems to be by casting their vote once in every five years to elect their representative. After casting their votes, people appear to lose all their rights to influence or participate in the governance processes from the local to the national levels. While this skepticism continues there are few recent incidents, which instill confidence in our democracy:

  • Union Government had no choice but to withdraw the Ordinance to negate the Supreme Court verdict on convicted lawmakers because of the immense public outrage.

  • Election commission has introduced “None of the Above” (NOTA) option during polls to enable voters to exercise their right to not vote for any particular candidate while maintaining secrecy. This is in response to the observation made by the Supreme Court as “For democracy to survive, it is essential that the best available men should be chosen as people’s representatives for proper governance of the country. This can be best achieved through men of high moral and ethical values, who win the elections on a positive vote. “Thus in a vibrant democracy, the voter must be given an opportunity to choose none of the above button, which will indeed compel the political parties to nominate a sound candidate. This situation palpably tells us the dire need of negative voting.”

  • The Supreme Court while passing the directives on a public interest litigation directed the Centre and state governments to pass orders giving fixed tenure to civil servants, set up civil services board within three months etc.,

The assertiveness of judiciary, civil society activism, media scrutiny etc., are beginning to generate confidence in the Indian Democracy which will hopefully transform our nation in the years to come.

India’s position continues to be quite pathetic as it ranks 134 in the list of 189 countries in the ease of doing business as per World Bank report of ‘Doing Business 2014’. It fell from 116th position to 134th position from 2004 to 2014. Singapore continues to top the list as a best destination for doing business. Even after two decades of liberalizing Indian economy, none of the governments have focused on improving the ease of doing business in India. The Committee for reforming the Regulatory environment constituted under Chairmanship M. Damodaran, Former Chairman SEBI, gave its report to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Sachin Pilot, Minister of Corporate Affairs has been very committed and has ensured enacting The Companies Act, 2013 and is in the process of implementing the same. He should in a similar way take ownership, mobilize support from all the ministries, regulators etc., and improve Indian ranking which will help India Inc., to garner larger FDI, improve business sentiment, leading to higher investment in India vs. overseas.

SEBI is weighing the proposal for issue of optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCD) to retail investors in IPOs which will give a protection for their investment. By nature, equity is a risk instrument, therefore mandating issuers to protect investment is against this fundamental assumption and not in good taste. Instead SEBI should continue to strengthen disclosure mechanism, transparency of issues / issuers, harsh penalties for mischievous issuers, educating and empowering investors etc.,

I am happy to share an accomplishment on my personal front. I have completed EMBA (Post Graduate Programme for senior Management / PGPMAX) programme from ISB. It’s been a wonderful roller coaster journey over last 18 months. Awesome experience with lot of learning, unlearning, met amazing people, had great fun, got exposed to world class faculty, academic institutions and made life long friends. Went through 25 courses over last 12 terms.

With best regards
Raghu Babu G

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