Respected Prime Minister, this is an open letter to you and your cabinet when the country is in serious economic crisis. You came in 2014 like a breath of fresh air and opened up a slew of highly impressive steps to unite the country culturally and economically. Jan Dhan and GST were awesome; so were Uri strike and Balakot. Your vision finally took over the Kashmir cake and righted wrongs by Jawahar Lal Nehru. Swachch Bharat set the tone for further unity. Your foreign policy along with the efforts of Mr Jaishankar and Madame Sushma Swaraj is second to none in the whole world. You have successfully isolated our enemy countries. All your steps have been to create a better, stronger and proud Bharat.
You never shunned strong decisions. However, you are left wanting today when every single job in India is slowly disintegrating. This will create crime if not civil war soon. You have to act yesterday.
Kindly take this from a business chamber of domain experts viz Smart Cities Next:
Minimally reducing GST on cars, trucks and Parle biscuits just because they have been featured extensively in the media will not help. You have to cross the tipping point. In every industry, be it telecom or airlines, mass customer adoption was achieved when the tipping point was reached. Similarly, GST is a tool to drive the economy. You will not reach mass adoption and kick off transactions in large numbers unless you cross the tipping point. This will be achieved if you restrict GST rates on all goods and services between five and eight per cent. Only then will the economy start, and jobs will be available again. Please do not bother about revenue loss as the GST Council will experience net revenue gain owing to new businesses and new transactions. You will not achieve a great Bharat on empty bank accounts and empty stomachs. The condition is dire as of this morning and needs to be rectified as an emergency.
The imperialist countries of the earlier centuries used to loot developing nations. This ensured that the imperialist nations had a great economic surplus ensuring a good lifestyle for their own citizens in their own country. However, India does not intend to loot countries but owing to great manufacturing zones and great innovations, we can reach that level of surplus today. For this, we have to have a strong economy in place. The first step would be to slash GST rates.
The Andhra Medi-Tech Zone or AMTZ was created by your own chosen brilliant scientist Dr Jitendar Sharma. He stood in heat and dust and created a huge economic zone for medical devices within India where companies will not be harassed for policy compliance and will save capex burden. This is a brilliant concept by your government. This is the only model which can tackle the menace of Chinese manufacturing. However, the Andhra government recently removed Dr Sharma citing the reason that they wanted to scrutinise files on procurement for creating AMTZ in record time. At a time, when the need of the hour is swiftly replicating the AMTZ model and nationalising the same across India, we are witness to harassment of our brilliant scientists and penalising them for creating world winning models in record time. What would happen if an ordinary bureaucrat was made to head the NSA, IB, NIA, DRDO and ISRO? How will that turn out for the country? Mr Prime Minister you have done so much, now we need your active intervention for manufacturing zones. Imagine, Rs 5 crore worth MRI machines and CT Scan machines being manufactured in India and sold for just Rs 97 lakhs. This what your facility will do. At the AMTZ eco-system companies are complaining about not being given an early enough entry into the zone and fighting over who will get to manufacture first. We need this model and we need your intervention to spread this across India within days.
Smart Cities Next is ready to take over operations of Air India and ITDC if they are merged together and given to us for management. We shall make it a profit-making flagship company worthy of pride. In this world, airlines and hotels go together. India has both as government assets but unconnected to one another. The help being provided to Air India may be converted to grants towards Smart Cities Next and disbursed accordingly. We shall achieve another Incredible India milestone, only this time we shall do it with a profitable Air India.
Besides the slashing of GST rates, we also need to trace invoices across India and that too digitally. Today, GST payment to GST Council is mandatory by businesses but the invoices need to be standardized digitally and used from one or more hubs which may be outsourced from companies such as TCS, which already work for Passport Sewa. This will enable all transactions to be traceable.
Currently, the process of creating Smart Cities is not bearing any results. Till date, most of the money disbursed has been collected by consulting firms, which have not contributed to ground development. If we need consulting firms for choosing, validating, setting bidding parameters and signing off projects then we may as well admit that the nation is not equipped to create smart cities. This has to change. Smart Cities Next is advocating policy change and wishes to work on citizen centric databases with information about health, health needs, skill upgradation needs, housing and recreational needs.
Please accept our humble submission and act on the above so that we see a continuation of what we saw when you first took office as our beloved and cherished Prime Minister.
The author is Director-General and CEO, Smart Cities Next