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 will discuss possible mechanisms to reduce unease of living. Following questions will be 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?
The webinar is likely to attract 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
Dr Gursharan Dhanjal, MD & Editor, SKOCH Group
Mr Sameer Kochhar, Chairman, SKOCH Group
|11:10-11:55||Panel 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
Mr Rohan Kochhar, Director, Public Policy, SKOCH Group
Mr Udai S Mehta, Deputy Executive Director, CUTS International
Pradeep S Mehta
Secretary General, CUTS International
Chairman, SKOCH Group
MD & Editor, SKOCH Group
“For ease of living, we need to redesign our regulatory architecture to listen to marginalised stakeholders”, CUTS International and SKOCH Group
September 12, 2020
Recently at the India Ideas Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated that Ease of Living is as important as Ease of Doing Business.
To deliberate on mechanisms to foster ease of living for citizens, CUTS International and SKOCH Group jointly organised a webinar on Making Regulatory Reforms Inclusive and Sustainable.
Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International, highlighted that at present there is a coordination failure within the government and processes adopted by the government in reaching out to external stakeholders are sub-optimal.
There is a need to institutionalise good practices like Regulatory Impact Assessment to be undertaken by dedicated specialised bodies like regulatory reforms commission at central and state levels which can reach out to stakeholders and arrive at optimal solutions.
These should include women, informal, and small entrepreneurs, and periodically review cost and benefits of regulations on such stakeholders.
Sameer Kochhar, Chairman, SKOCH Group, noted that progress is possible only through negotiation and discussion, particularly with stakeholders having differing points of view. Implementing participative policy making process will be key to ensure ease of living.
He welcomed the partnership with CUTS International, a pioneer on regulatory reforms and looked forward to further activities to take the agenda forward.
Rishi Agrawal, Co-founder and CEO, Avantis Regtech, pointed out it is difficult to manage something which cannot be measured. At present, small and medium enterprises are subjected to significant compliance costs, coupled with inconsistent and overlapping regulations.
These are forcing them to remain stunted, which, in turn, adversely impacts our economic growth generally, and in particular ease of living for micro and small entrepreneurs, their employees, and vendors.
Jahnabi Phookan, President FICCI FLO, highlighted the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in navigating the regulatory ecosystem, while appreciating the support provided by government to such entrepreneurs.
Challenges with regard to accessing collateral free loans, market linkages, information asymmetry about government schemes and capacity building were emphasised.
She pointed out that supporting traditional and scalable businesses championed by women entrepreneurs would go a long way in enhancing growth and ease of living of citizens.
Ajay Shankar, former Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, stated that our regulatory system has been a hangover from colonial administration, and it is unfortunately assumed that wisdom resides with those in power.
The process of consultation with stakeholders is extremely weak and is captured by those who are relatively privileged, resulting in ignoring the voice of the marginalised.
He stressed, that there is a need to create a transparent and publicly accessible inventory of regulations and institutionalise practices like cost benefit analysis in letter and spirit to take into account perspectives of all stakeholders. Only then, it will enable inclusive and sustainable regulatory framework.
Arun Maira, former Member of Planning Commission said that we are living in a paradigm in which men, machine, and formality are given preference and other stakeholders are expected to meet their standards.
For ease of living, a change is paradigm is needed to focus on women, nature, and informality. This can happen if this we deeply listen to such marginalised stakeholders in the language they speak and understand their perspectives.
It was also pointed out that there is a need to review and implement recommendations of different expert committees on bureaucratic and administrative reforms to shorten the distance between policy makers and citizens.
The webinar was attended by close to 50 participants and was first in series of webinars by CUTS International and SKOCH Group on building a narrative for reimagining a better regulatory architecture.
For further details, please feel free to contact:
Mr Vijay Singh, Assistant Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)