Webinar
Trending

Reducing Unease of Living

Presented by

Saturday | 12 September 2020 | 1100-1200 hrs

Enhancing ease of living has been a long-standing aim of the Indian government. However, it appears that its idea of ease of living has unfortunately been limited to perception surveys on the quality of life and delivery of basic services. This has resulted into several sub-optimal and unintended outcomes. Unlike other countries, the government hasn’t sufficiently focused on reducing the unease of living resulting from inefficient regulations, and fostering inclusive consultations at all levels on regulatory reforms.

India deserves a legislation like Freedom from Regulations Act which can institutionalise a structured process to identify, amend and repeal inefficient regulations, by implementing a three-step test of legality, necessity, and proportionality, informed by robust public consultations and cost-benefit analyses. Interests of workers, micro enterprises, and consumers will particularly need to be taken into account while adopting such reforms. It is pertinent to note that Prime Minister Modi also seems to have equated ease of living with the ease of doing business.1

In continuation of series of webinars on regulatory reforms jointly organised by CUTS International and SKOCH Group, this second webinar discussed possible mechanisms to reduce unease of living. Following questions were discussed:

  1. How to enhance the scope of ease of living from merely ease of doing business and citizen-focussed surveys, and realising that reducing unease of living is equally essential?
  2. What incentives and/or disincentives are necessary to institutionalise a structured mechanism to identify, amend, and abolish sub-optimal regulations resulting in unease of living?
  3. How to ensure that neglected groups like MSMEs, women, workers and informal enterprises become pivot of ease of living initiatives?

The webinar attracted participation from diverse stakeholders and foster engaging conversations. The details of previous webinar are available here and appeal to the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers of all States and Union Territories of India on Reimagining the Nation’s Economic Regulatory Framework is available here.


1 Mehta, Filter out bad regulations to reduce the unease of living, Livemint, 19 August 2020, https://www.livemint.com/opinion/online-views/filter-out-bad-regulations-to-reduce-the-unease-of-living-11597850057962.html


11:00-11:05Introductory Remarks
Dr Gursharan Dhanjal, MD & Editor, SKOCH Group
11:05-11:10Welcome Remarks
Mr Sameer Kochhar, Chairman, SKOCH Group
11:10-11:55Panel Discussion and Q&A Session 
Moderator: Mr Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International
Mr Anil Bhardwaj, Secretary General, Federation of Indian Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises (FISME)
Mr Rajendra Bhanawat, Former IAS, and Chairman, SANDHAN
Mr Rajiv Tikoo, Senior Journalist
Ms Reema Nanavaty, Social Worker and Leader, SEWA
11:55-12:00Closing Remarks
Mr Rohan Kochhar, Director, Public Policy, SKOCH Group
Mr Udai S Mehta, Deputy Executive Director, CUTS International
Pradeep S Mehta

Pradeep S Mehta

Secretary General, CUTS International

Mr Sameer Kochhar

Sameer Kochhar

Chairman, SKOCH Group

Gursharan Dhanjal

Gursharan Dhanjal

MD & Editor, SKOCH Group

Anil Bhardwaj

Anil Bhardwaj

Secretary General, FISME
View Profile

Rajendra Bhanawat

Rajendra Bhanawat

Former IAS, and Chairman, SANDHAN
View Profile

Mr Rajiv Tikoo

Mr Rajiv Tikoo

Senior Journalist
View Profile

Reema Nanavaty

Reema Nanavaty

Social Worker and Leader, SEWA
View Profile

Event Report

Webinar
on
Reducing Unease of Living

Saturday ● 12 September 2020 ● 1100-1200 hrs


1. Background

1.1 Enhancing ease of living has been a long-standing aim of the Indian government. However, it appears that its idea of ease of living has unfortunately been limited to perception surveys on the quality of life and delivery of basic services. This has resulted into several sub-optimal and unintended outcomes. Unlike other countries, the government hasn’t sufficiently focused on reducing the unease of living resulting from inefficient regulations, and fostering inclusive consultations at all levels on regulatory reforms.

1.2 India deserves a legislation like Freedom from Regulations Act which can institutionalise a structured process to identify, amend and repeal inefficient regulations, by implementing a three-step test of legality, necessity, and proportionality, informed by robust public consultations and cost-benefit analysis. Interests of workers, micro enterprises, and consumers will particularly need to be taken into account while adopting such reforms. It is pertinent to note that Prime Minister Modi also seems to have equated ease of living with the ease of doing business.

1.3. While advocating for regulatory reforms, CUTS International recently issued an appeal to the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers of all States and Union Territories of India on Reimagining the Nation’s Economic Regulatory Framework. Simultaneously, it also initiated a webinar series on Regulatory Reforms, in collaboration with SKOCH Foundation. This is the second webinar in the series which discussed possible mechanisms to Reduce Unease of Living. Following questions were discussed:

  • How to enhance the scope of ease of living from merely ease of doing business and citizen-focussed surveys, and realising that reducing unease of living is equally essential?
  • What incentives and/or disincentives are necessary to institutionalise a structured mechanism to identify, amend, and abolish sub-optimal regulations resulting in unease of living?
  • How to ensure that neglected groups like MSMEs, women, workers and informal enterprises become pivot of ease of living initiatives?

1.4. This second webinar was organised on building a narrative for reimagining a better regulatory architecture aimed at reducing the unease of living. The details of previous webinar are available here and appeal to the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers of all States and Union Territories of India on Reimagining the Nation’s Economic Regulatory Framework is available here.


2. Key speakers

2.1. Key speakers in the webinar were:

  • Mr Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International, (Moderator) 
  • Mr Sameer Kochhar, Chairman, SKOCH Group
  • Mr Anil Bhardwaj, Secretary General, Federation of Indian Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises (FISME)
  • Mr Rajendra Bhanawat, Former IAS, and Chairman, SANDHAN
  • Mr Rajiv Tikoo, Senior Journalist

2.2.

The webinar was attended by close to 130 participants from diverse stakeholder groups, including policy influencers, experts, think tanks, academia, and media. The video recording of the webinar is available here.


3. Summary of discussions

Understanding the ground reality

3.1. The discussion started with highlighting the issues and problems which has led to increase in unease of living. Post-independence, India with its objective to develop an industrial ecosystem to achieve sustainable development and raise standards of living started to formulate sub-optimal regulations without following the due process of consultations. The prevailing regulatory framework has about 1,536 acts, 69,233 compliances, 6,618 different filings, across central, state, and local laws, which has changed multiple times last year. The resulting compliance burden and red tape has direct impact on the ease of living of citizens, particularly for consumers, low income citizens, micro-entrepreneurs and informal sectors.

3.2. It was also highlighted that compliance burden from bodies such as Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) and municipalities along with labour and taxations laws create hardships for low-income consumers, medium and small enterprises.

3.3. It was pointed out that the reason for the rising informality is the cost of being formal. This is evident from the fact that 50% of the GDP in India is accounted for by the informal economy. Apart, from the financial constraints faced by the informal sectors, the three policy and structural stumbling blocks which stigmatise the informal sectors include zoning policies in urban areas, electricity charges on the type of uses, and house tax on commercial enterprises.

3.4. These points were further elaborated through highlighting the sub-optimal urban planning which has left cities divided into residential and commercial zones. As a result self-employed and people working from home are not able to leverage the same benefits as formally employed work-force due to differentiation in policies based on the use of property. On the other hand, people from professions such as lawyers and chartered accountants have leveraged benefits for themselves from municipalities, however the same is not applicable to other self-employed person. In today’s pandemic times, many people are working from home who too need the same concessions as lawyers and accountants. Additionally, the house tax increases tremendously if the property is used for commercial purposes which creates additional burden on the enterprises and leads to sub-optimal level of functioning.

3.5. It was pointed out that in the current setting all the processes to get access to public services require approaching public authorities, which creates an unnecessary bureaucratic layer. Moreover, the systems and processes within government departments are mystified, language is too legalistic and there is lack of accountability, this creates further ambiguities, which gives leeway to culture of middlemen. This leads for the systems to become more complicated and expensive for common man.

3.6. In this regard, the presumption that ease of doing business will percolate downwards leading to ease of living is incorrect as it has gushed in upwards direction increasing the economic divide.

3.7. One of the basic reason for the continuation of these problems and ad hoc approach within the systems and process of the state machinery is the lack of awareness of problems which the masses face and insouciance of officials at the lower and middle level of government machinery. This has emanated from the lack of capacity building and institutional training to make them more acquainted with recent developments. 

3.8. Furthermore, citizens are not aware about the process to follow while seeking redress as many of the success stories of grievance redress are not told, which could act as a learning resource for the citizens. For small and medium enterprises, problems exists on the lines of lack of digital know how, lack of capacity to attract adequate talent, uncertainty and government interference. Notably, these problems become compounded due to lack of appropriate channels of communication between the administration and citizens.

The way forward

3.9. While highlighting the problems related to existing urban policies, government systems and grievance redress which contribute to unease of living, the panellists suggested some way forward which could help in achieving ease of living. It was recommended that we should revisit zoning policies to make them more flexible so that people can work from their homes without burdening themselves from unnecessary compliances, taxes and electricity charges.

3.10. The focus should be on building trust amongst citizens in administrative systems through simplified process so that a common man can understand the laws and procedures without the help of a middlemen. Additionally, there should minimum number of laws which should be drafted in  simple language to enable the common man to comprehend.

3.11. It was pointed out that we must see ease of living from the viewpoint of common man and not just people who  have the clout and money to get things done. For this, a workable system of grievance redress is required along with building capacities of administrative personnel.

3.12. Citizen driven accountability measures are necessary and government should get out of the way of people and should just act  as a facilitator rather than creating hurdles for them.

3.13. Furthermore, it was pointed out that is necessary to hear voices from the ground   regarding opening and closing of businesses and hearing feedback from MSMEs. For this, appropriate channels of communications should be established and digital medium should not be considered the only silver bullet.

3.14. Following specific suggestions came out from the discussion:

  • Enable dual use of property, with right threshold and parameters such as numbers of employed persons, usage of electricity and other reasonable regulatory compliance.  
    • There is a need to undertake capacity building initiatives for both citizens as well as personnel working in the government departments. 
    • Forming a national communication and media policy, so that a two-way channel of communication could be maintained so that concerns of citizens reach the relevant set of people.
    • Citizens need to be adequately informed about the reaction or action taken in response to feedback given by them. This would help in building citizens’ trust in the government. 
    • Enacting an effective Public Service Delivery Assurance Act nationally. This should be subject to third party audit, public disclosure and accountability, so that tokenism is not practiced by the bureaucracy.

1 Mehta, Filter out bad regulations to reduce the unease of living, Livemint, 19 August 2020,
https://www.livemint.com/opinion/online-views/filter-out-bad-regulations-to-reduce-the-unease-of-living11597850057962.html

2 Some media coverage available at https://www.socialnews.xyz/, http://www.daijiworld.com/, https://newsd.in/, https://www.andhram.com/and the press release available athttps://cuts-ccier.org/for-ease-of-living-we-need-toredesign-our-regulatory-architecture-to-listen-to-marginalised-stakeholders-cuts-international-and-skoch-group/.

Reduce Regulatory Complexity to Ensure Inclusive Recovery


September 12, 2020

“The likelihood of K-shaped economic recovery from Covid-19 with rich becoming richer and poor becoming poorer is real and it will impact the poor most adversely” said Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International while launching a webinar on Reducing the Unease of Living.

To discuss ways to prevent such scenario and discuss actionable reforms, CUTS International and SKOCH Group jointly organised a webinar recently.

This webinar is a part of series of events on Regulatory Reforms for building a narrative for reimagining a better regulatory architecture for India, convened jointly by CUTS & SKOCH Group.

Mr Mehta highlighted that we lack an institutionalised mechanism to identify and examine the sub-optimal regulations. This has a direct impact on the ease of living of citizens, particularly women, workers, consumers, informal and micro entrepreneurs, and low income citizens, which goes beyond their personal lives and is visible in the low skilled and low productivity jobs.

There is a need to move towards an approach of regulatory reforms which is aimed at reducing the unease of living for citizens. This can happen by making citizen well-being paramount and applying a three step test for examining the legality, necessity and proportionality to filter out sub-optimal regulations.

Sameer Kochhar, Chairman, SKOCH Group, pointed out that institutions like resident welfare associations, municipal bodies & agencies monitoring compliances under labour, taxation and other laws often act beyond their remit and hinder the ease of living of people, especially women, small entrepreneurs and people working from home. Many such compliances go against the very groups they intend to protect.

Anil Bhardwaj, Secretary General, FISME, stressed on three types of policy issues which stigmatise self-employed workers, informal and small entrepreneurs. These are: zoning policies, electricity charges, and housing tax on commercial enterprises. These envisage straitjackets and strict separation between formal and informal economy which is not possible.

The cost of formalisation for an informal enterprise is quite high. There is immediate need to adopt low-hanging practical reforms like allowing dual use of property, rationalising electricity and housing tax charges.

Mr. Rajendra Bhanawat, former IAS officer, and Chairman, Society for Study of Education & Development (SANDHAN) stated that citizens feel neglected because there is a false notion of seeking importance among government officials. This is based on distrust, particularly at lower and middle levels of administration.

Ease of living is not percolating downwards to the last person but is gushing up, and economic divide is increasing. It is necessary to demystify the functioning of government work to enable ordinary citizen to gain confidence in the system. There is a need of reducing the number of laws and transform current laws with texts containing simple words and short sentences.

Rajiv Tikoo, Senior Journalist, highlighted that the short-term approach is a compulsion and not a choice for MSMEs as it makes risk management easy for them. Disproportionate focus on digital communications is resulting in digital divide. There is a need for national media and communication policy to ensure two-way interaction between government and citizens.

The event was concluded by Amol Kulkarni, Director (Research), CUTS International, who said that mechanisms like Regulatory Impact Assessment and cost-benefit analysis could go a long way in reducing regulatory complexity, promote ease of living, and facilitate an inclusive economic recovery. A content rich vote of thanks was also extended by Dr. Gursharan Dhanjal, Managing Director & Editor, SKOCH Group who stated that regulatory reforms are a pre-condition to reduce unease of living and ensure inclusive economic growth.

The webinar, telecasted on various SKOCH platforms, was attended by over 130 participants.

For further details, please feel free to contact:

Vijay Singh at vs@cuts.org
Prashant Tak at pst@cuts.org

New Delhi: ?The likelihood of K-shaped economic recovery from Covid-19 with rich becoming richer and poor becoming poorer is real ?
Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please disable the adblocker to view this website.

Anil Bhardwaj
Secretary General, Federation of Indian Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises (FISME)

Creators of capital- the entrepreneurs, fascinate me...and play field of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) is my area of work for over 20 years. Following their tracks.. I have become a student of wide range of subjects such as the ecosystem for business.. framework conditions which aid or impede entrepreneurship.. the impact of industrial & trade policies on competitiveness.. the promotional & regulatory environment for MSMEs..the dynamics of associations, groups and industrial clusters.. bilateral..and regional and multilateral trade agreements..

My initial 7 years earlier in International Trade in private sector..and later my working on SMEs issues at FISME provided me opportunities to lead or advise SME development projects supported by range of institutions UNCTAD, ITC, UNIDO, UNDP, ILO, World Bank, UNESCAP, APO, ADB, Commonwealth, DFID, GIZ among others.

Besides being SG, FISME, my current engagements include:
- Chairman, Advisory Board, Intra-Commonwealth SME Association
- Member, Governing Board, Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Ahmedabad
- Member, NIDHI Seed Support Management Committee (NIDHI-SSMC) (Selection of Start-ups)
- Member, Working Group to review MSMED Act (Ministry of MSME, Govt of (ndia)

My recent engagements have been:
Member, Damodaran Committee for Reforming the Regulatory Environment for Doing Business in India, GoI
- Member of Drafting Committee for ‘National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic responsibilities of Business’ (Ministry Corporate Affairs, GoI)
- Member, Social Responsibility Sectional Committee at Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)
- Member, Advisory Board, National Public Procurement Observatory (CUTS)
- Member Board, National Board for Quality Promotion (Quality Council of India)
- Member of jury, Business Today SME awards
- Member of Working Group under 'Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 (IBBI)

Rajendra Bhanawat
Former IAS, and Chairman, SANDHAN

Born on November 9, 1953 (official date of birth is 15th September 1952), Shri Rajendra Bhanawat retired from the IAS on 30.09.2012 after 38 years of service. His last assignment was as Managing Director, Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation Ltd.(RIICO). Prior to this, he worked as Secretary to Govt of Rajasthan, Rural Development, Secretary Animal Husbandry, Commissioner, NREGA. He remained Divisional Commissioner of Jaipur and Bharatpur Divisions and Collector of Dungarpur and Baran districts. Some of the other assignments he held include Director, Tourism, MD, RTDC, Director, Literacy and continuing education, Labour Commissioner, Director, Land and Building taxes, Registrar, University of Rajasthan, Executive Director, RSMDC, Dy Director, HCMRIPA ( OTS), ADM, SDM.

He holds two M.Scs in Physics and Mathematics and two Diplomas in French and Labour Laws, Labour Welfare and Personnel Management. He has been topper of Udaipur University in B.Sc. Examination and was awarded a Gold Medal. He was also awarded Gold Medal by “Vaigyanic Balak” – a Science magazine for standing first in University in the I Yr. B.Sc. examination. During his college days, he won a number of essay and debate competitions besides remaining President of Physical Society.

He underwent 13-week training programme for Overseas Training specialists at Oxford, UK in 1985 and another four-week training for management of civil services at ENA, Paris, France in 2004. Besides these, he also received several in-service trainings in IIM, Ahmedabad, ASC, Hyderabad, TMC, Pune and other prominent training institutions.

As a professional, in all his postings, Sh. Bhanawat has left marks of success combined with moral values, integrity, compassion and dedication. 

Profit of RIICO increased from Rs. 150 cr in 2009-10 to Rs. 475 crores in 2011-12 during his tenure.

He was awarded State Merit Certificate by Hon’ble Governor of Rajasthan on 15th August 1993 for outstanding contribution to the field of Tourism. He also received NLM-UNESCO Award in 2000 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on behalf of Rajasthan for outstanding achievement in the field of Literacy. 

He has contributed over 300 guest editorials to Rashtradoot, a daily newspaper and has written a number of articles on various aspects of management and administration which have been published in many reputed journals. He has also authored a number of poems on human and contemporary issues. He has authored two books viz., “Kaharon pe kahar” ( a compilation of his poems) and “Naitikata, Nagraikata and Sushan”. A book of his memoirs as a civil servant titled “ A View from Within” has recently been published.

He is presently the Chairman of NGO Sandhan, Trustee of Doosra Dashak and Vice Chairman of Rajasthan chapter of Transparency International India. He is a member of the executive committee of Prayas. He has been appointed as High Court  Commissioner for homeless people in Rajasthan. He is on the academic council of Jaipuria institute of management and is a member of Advisory committee of CUTS and Vidhyashram (schools run by Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan)  

He loves to interact with young generation on various topics including ethics and compassion in administration, poverty alleviation, educational administration, reaching the unreached, good governance, excellence through innovations, tourism development, accelerating industrial growth.

He has visited 32 countries namely US, UK, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Slovenia, Germany, Hungary, Kenya, Columbia, China, Russia, Egypt, Turkey, UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Nepal and Bhutan.

Rajiv Tikoo
Senior Journalist

RAJIV TIKOO is a senior editor and development communication professional of more than two decades.  Presently, he heads OneWorld Foundation India, an ICTs for development NGO. He has previously worked at leadership positions in OneWorld South Asia, United Nations Millennium Campaign, the Indian Express Group, and the India Today Group. He is recipient of fellowships from International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Geneva); Panos South Asia (UK), and the University of Cambridge. He is also a former Member of the Governing Board of Women’s Feature Service (WFS); Lokvani Committee of Prasar Bharati; CII National Committee on Industry-Civil Society Interface; ASSOCHAM National Council on Climate Change; and Advisory Board at Jagannath International Management School.

Reema Nanavaty
Social Worker and Leader, SEWA

Reema Nanavaty joined SEWA in 1984. Under her leadership, SEWA has grown to become the single largest union of informal sector workers in India with around 1,836,550 women members. Her focus is on women’s economic empowerment by building women-owned enterprises and women-led supply chains in energy, agribusiness, food processing, waste recycling, and textiles. Ms. Nanavaty founded the SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC), now owned by 15,000 women artisans. Under her leadership, the TFC model is being replicated in all South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries to build the social enterprises of homebased women workers. She also initiated SEWA’s food security programme that covers one million households. She spearheads the ‘Hariyali’ Green Energy and Livelihoods Initiative to provide 200,000 women access to renewable energy. Ms. Nanavaty worked to rebuild the lives and livelihoods of 60,000 earthquake-affected rural women as well as 40,000 members affected by communal riots in Gujarat. She leads rehabilitation programmes in crisis-torn Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. She was awarded the Padmashri by the Government of India in 2013.