Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicks starts his 7-day tour of Ireland and US. His visits to both the countries have generated significant interest. While this is the first time in almost 60 years that an Indian Prime Minister would be visiting Ireland, the interest around the US visit seems predominantly on business grounds.
In the US the Prime Minister is scheduled to head for the west coast once his UN commitments are over. His schedule there appears choc a bloc starting with a Q&A session at the Facebook headquarters followed by a look at recent technological innovations at the Google campus. He is also alted to visit Tesla Motors and address a Renewable Energy Roundtable with USDOC and Stanford University. In all of these Mr Modi’s biggest engagements appear to be with the start ups. In his own words, “an event that I am enthusiastic about is the ‘India-US Start-up Konnect.’ India is emerging as a hub of startups in a wide range of areas and we aspire to take this further. We want the world to see our innovation capabilities in the startups sector. At this event, a group of Indian startups will showcase their innovation and forge partnerships with the vibrant American startup industry. ”
While on the face of it this sounds like a promising turn of events, the sceptic me cannot but be a slightly apprehensive. One of the greatest reasons is perhaps the near paralysis and stalling regulatory progress in our policymaking process. While the window for opening of newer tie-ups with Silicon Valley companies can literally give a fresh fillip to Indian business, the ground realities and business environment in India can hardly be termed as conducive yet. Though the digital start-up space in India has been growing by leaps and bounds initial phases, the progress beyond this stage is intrinsically linked to the regulatory and clearance mechanism in the country which is far from satisfactory currently.
So while Mr Modi continues to hard sell brand India abroad, it is very important to clear the deck of potential regulatory and clearance hurdles to actually reap benefits of these initiatives and capitalise on the start-up boom.