Industry associations vie with one another to get the attention of governments to advise on policy as also to lobby specific causes of their members. A major effort relates to lending their services for events like the global investors meet. CII, with its strong network of offices spread across the country, has been effective in winning such assignments.
In the recently organised TN Global Investors Meet in Chennai, CII was retained as the national partner. P Murari, Advisor to FICCI and a former IAS officer belonging to the Tamil Nadu managed to get FICCI nominated as the event partner. ASSOCHAM was grouped with 17 others as a partner organisation. Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the oldest regional chamber (established in 1836) and a promoter-regional chamber of ASSOCHAM, managed to be included as a partner organisation.
In such an arrangement, there has been the understandable competition for getting a solus position.
CII has a unitary set up with regional offices and local offices well-spread across the country. FICCI and ASSOCHAM were built on affiliated chambers. With the success of the CII model, the other two apex chambers also seem to be impressed with the unitary model. FICCI worked on this a few years ago by setting up regional offices. ASSOCHAM seems to be moving towards this. This has its impact on the state level chambers which feel a dilution of their importance.
The centralisation of functions at ASSOCHAM also seem to create certain heart burns in promoter chambers like BCCI and MCCI… The practice earlier was to have the presidency limited to a year as in CII and the presidency was rotated among the regions. This convention appears to have been given the go. The incumbent Rana Kapoor continues as President for the third term. This impacts on the aspirations of the regional business leaders. After L Lakshman of the Rane Group, there has not been a representation to Chennai for over a decade.
The proliferation of chambers is in line with the Indian psyche: to be comfortable with small–sized organisations with limited resources and activities and providing berths for larger number of business leaders. But are they all effective?