Reducing Unease of Living

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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:

  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 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

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
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Rajendra Bhanawat

Rajendra Bhanawat

Former IAS, and Chairman, SANDHAN
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Mr Rajiv Tikoo

Mr Rajiv Tikoo

Senior Journalist
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Reema Nanavaty

Reema Nanavaty

Social Worker and Leader, SEWA
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“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 (vs@cuts.rg)

1. Mehta, Filter out bad regulations to reduce the unease of living, Livemint, 19 August 2020


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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.