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Ease of doing agriculture…

CII’s wide range of activities truly helps the Indian industry’s competitiveness, contributing to national development, inclusiveness and sustainability.

India is expected to register a growth of 7.0 per cent in 2018-19, making it the fastest growing major economy for the second year in a row. India’s growth rate has shown an annual average growth of 7.6 per cent between 2014 and 2019. We are now well on track to move towards becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025.
For 2019-20 CII expects GDP growth in the range of 7.4-7.7 per cent. This is slightly higher than most analysts have forecast for the year, but we believe that investments will pick up shortly. Capacity utilisation has remained high for four consecutive quarters as per the latest RBI survey. This would help boost the investment cycle in the economy.

Exports pick up

The external atmosphere is troubling with our largest export partners imposing some protectionist measures. The trade tensions in US and China, Brexit, oil prices and other issues were also of concern during the past year. Despite this, the export sector performed better than in previous years and is expected to come in at about $320-330 billion for the year.
The reform pace during the year continued proactively. On Ease of Doing Business, India soared in the World Bank Doing Business rankings by 23 spots to 77th position, a huge jump from just 2 years ago. Moreover, the states too undertook measures for this purpose.
On GST, the GST Council continued to address procedural issues and took several key decisions on rates, real estate, simplification and so on. A major decision was to provide relief to small businesses and traders by raising the thresholds under composition scheme and registration of enterprises. These brought a lot of relief to the MSME sector.
The Government also progressed well on the infrastructure construction mission including roads and highways, airports, ports and railways. The electrification process which achieved the target of reaching all villages was indeed commendable. Similarly, there has been significant movement in areas such as financial inclusion, healthcare, housing, and sanitation.
The CII activities were carried out under the theme of ‘India RISE: Responsible. Inclusive. Sustainable. Entrepreneurial.’
CII submitted recommendations on issues such as financial sector, MSME, jobs and employment creation and so on and many of these found place in policy announcements. Critical areas such as GST, liquidity issues, interest rate subvention, ease of doing business and trade facilitation plus many sectoral issues were taken up.

Model code of conduct for business ethics

This year, CII brought out a Model Code of Conduct for Business Ethics which serves as a guide for businesses. We formed the India Business Disability Network in partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Employer’s Federation of India which aims to empower People with Disabilities and foster an accessible, inclusive workplace.
CII also started the Indian Digital Gaming Society, a not-for-profit organisation to promote this industry. The Emerging Markets Forum was set up to offer targeted trade and investment facilitation services to Indian companies in emerging markets. The services under this range from exploratory information to assisting in business development.

CII startupreneur award..

To encourage and recognise entrepreneurship, the CII Startupreneur Award was initiated last year. Besides, we also expanded our exhibition and conferences portfolio with new events on Artificial Intelligence and Electronics. The ConMac in Nepal, largest show on construction equipment and Enterprize India at Bangladesh, helped to connect with our neighbourhood.
The year saw CII reinforce its overseas engagement. At the India UK CEO Forum, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of the UK, Theresa May interacted with CII. The CII Tech Summit saw great success with the presence of PM Modi and the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti. I also had occasion to interact with many global leaders on the CII platform.

25 years of cii at Singapore

It was a proud moment for CII to commemorate 25 years of our presence in Singapore. The felicitation of leaders like Goh Chok Tong, Emeritus Senior Minister and Heng Swee Keat, Finance Minister, along with the first Annual Lecture, truly reiterated the strong CII connect that has been forged with Singapore over the years.
I would also like to mention two major areas where CII members came in large numbers to help out. CII was at the forefront in providing relief for the Kerala floods, supplying several hundred tonnes of material and almost 1500 volunteers from different companies. CII’s initiative on stubble burning, which impacts air quality, with partners and companies in Punjab has had a positive impact on 16,000 acres of farm land.

Promoting agri-productivity

Despite the economy’s structural shift towards manufacturing and services, agriculture remains crucial to the overall state of the Indian economy, employing 54.6 per cent of the population and contributing 15-16 per cent to the GDP. CII has submitted some inputs on promoting agricultural productivity.
Ease of Doing Agriculture: agriculture being a state subject, implementation of agriculture reforms across states is challenging.
CII has recommended introducing ranking of states on Ease of Doing Agriculture. This could cover agriculture policy, performance of flagship schemes and infrastructure including road connectivity, electricity, irrigation infrastructure, market infrastructure, storage infrastructure, inputs, mechanisation, extension activities etc.
Fast-tracking Model Agricultural Land Leasing: Small land holders cultivate 42 per cent of operated land and constitute 83 per cent of total landholdings, which makes farming unviable and discourages use of technology. NITI Aayog has presented a Model Agricultural Land Leasing (MALL) Act which has been partially adopted by Punjab, Haryana, UP, MP and Rajasthan.
CII has suggested that adoption of Model Agricultural Land Leasing (MALL) Act across states be encouraged to overcome the issue of fragmented land holdings.
Fast-tracking Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitation) [APLM] Act 2017: in recent years, the government has laid significant emphasis on market reforms and marketing efficiency as a result of which our markets are today evolving towards a robust marketing framework. The National Agriculture Market (eNAM), Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitation) [APLM] Act 2017 and The Model Contract Farming Act 2018 as well as the proposal to upgrade 22,000 rural haats into Gramin Agriculture Markets (GrAMs) are some of the critical policy reforms targeted towards this end.
The APLM Act is a comprehensive Act that encompasses agri commodities as well as livestock, dairy, fishery. As of January 2019, four states—Punjab, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh – have adopted the APLM Act 2017 The need is to push for faster uptake of the Act at the state level.
Scaling-up eNAM: launched in April 2016, the eNAM portal has made considerable progress, currently encompassing 585 mandis across 16 states and 2 UTs. So far, 27 mandis across nine states namely, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana have participated in inter-state trade on eNAM.
To help eNAM perform to its full potential, the role of the states will be of prime importance, including rationalising
state and mandi taxes and creating storage and assaying infrastructure.
Promoting Solar as a 3rd crop: given the resource intensive nature of agriculture, solar energy offers sustainable solutions to the problem of over-exploitation of resources in agriculture. Technology solutions are available today that allow for crop and solar panels to co-exist on farms, thus offering the dual benefit of farming as well as renewable electricity production.
The recently introduced KUSUM scheme (Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan) rightly focuses on the same and aims to add solar capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022. States can assure incomes for famers in case of crop failure and higher incomes. It will also help reduce state government’s power subsidy bills to farmers.

Education and skill development

Technology and innovation must be a core component in education along with entrepreneurship training. Higher education needs to address twin objectives of pushing knowledge frontiers and commercialising new research. India is already emerging as a potent hub for global innovation, and this must be accelerated and deepened so that the country develops knowledge leadership.
On skill development, there should be opportunities for lifelong skilling to meet diverse requirements. New technologies can play an important role in this. In CII, we have undertaken a range of measures to boost skill availability and provide industry-relevant skills. Put together, the CII skill initiatives reach out to about 1 million youth every year and we are scaling this up rapidly.

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