Any government decision should not be a major reform: Anand Mahindra

Anand Mahindra can’t wait to return home from the United States because all the action is happening in India with a new, stable government led by Narendra Modi. Hours after chairing the Mahindra & Mahindra board meeting at midnight US time, the company’s chairman and MD spoke with Satish John of Boston on Saturday about his hopes and aspirations for the country. The new administration has started well and much more is expected, he said. Excerpts:

Modi February agenda of 10 items.

I think it is almost brilliant to put the fact at the top of the list that bureaucrats should be encouraged to make fearless decisions. In a sense, he has reached the heart of the problem of paralysis. The Indian government is extremely large and it is difficult to try to believe that one leader can make the whole difference. This is a federal system. In a big bureaucracy, you cannot transform any situation without co-opting the bureaucracy.

So empowerment becomes important. This is a good sign. If you remember, one of Modi’s main concerns was his autocratic style of functioning. Putting the empowerment of the bureaucracy at the top of the agenda, I think one has to appreciate and acknowledge that this is definitely not an act of an autocrat.

For the dissolution of ministerial groups.

Without making too much of a bad time, he is an example for business schools of how to exercise leadership and influence from day one of a new job. It sets a clear agenda and makes a clear promise to measure progress against this clear agenda. For example, drawing up a 100-day agenda will make it clear what the matrix for measuring the success of that agenda would be. It is important to make gradual progress towards this agenda every day and to report progress transparently. He has prepared his team, which is a focused team. For me, any decision should not be a major reform, but a signal for proactive decision-making and the elimination of bureaucracy and red tape. And a promise of even faster decision-making in the future.

On short immediate priorities.

Back in the ’80s, I had written a column called “Roads to Nowhere.” We didn’t build enough roads at that time. (Among) America’s competitive advantages are highways and its transportation network. They are like blood vessels for the economy and create job opportunities. Therefore, in a funny way, the best thing anyone can do to create an inclusive economy is, ironically, by building roads, because access to markets or lack of access to markets is one of the most discriminatory things. that one can do to the poor, especially to the poor in rural areas. This is not a point we automatically think of, but roads are a mechanism for creating economic inclusion. So I think the sooner you do it, the better for the economy. There is huge economic data showing that roads (give) a greater boost to rural incomes than even irrigation. This will help double the income of families and allow for a kind of diversity of dependence on agriculture that creates productivity.

About India-US relations.

I’ve been here (in the US) for a long time. The Indian elections have aroused great interest. Most diplomatic and political experts are now urging the Washington leadership not to miss out on what they see as a diplomatic opportunity for the United States to reach and restore very strong relations with India. They believe that the United States has lost ground over the controversial visa and that it must now rediscover the ground and build strong relations.

There is a feeling that both Japan and China have stolen a campaign to build this kind of relationship with India. In my opinion, there will be a strong effort on the part of the decision-makers here to contact the Prime Minister and his colleagues to restore relations.

The notion that the new government will lean more to the east – Japan, China, South Korea.

There is considerable interest from Japan. This is a country with a liquidity surplus and an investment surplus. Modi is aware of this. The reason Japanese investors are refraining is because they have not felt any of the promises we have made to gain momentum.

In the field of construction and large industrial projects, they can take a leading position in large projects here. At the same time, everyone speculated on the position of the prime minister and the cabinet, and the prime minister is his own man. My contention is that our Prime Minister is a practical man and knows that any kind of revenge has no role in foreign policy.

I think his whole goal is to improve India’s economic health and thereby win what India’s legitimate role in the world should be. The fact that we are the largest democracy in the world and we are all aware that the strength and role of a nation in global affairs comes from economic power. I think that in his own way and at the right time he will respond positively when the right signals are sent by the US administration.

For FDI in defense

We have been consistent since we entered into joint ventures with foreign companies. We have not changed our position. From the very beginning, we have told the government that it is a positive step to allow at least 49% of investments through the automatic route. Because this encourages the foreign partner to implement the technology in the JV. Otherwise, they are wary of providing 100% support to the Joint Undertaking. So, if you really want the best technology to be produced here, then (it should be) a minimum of 49% share, which we have always advocated.

About Mahindra’s investment plans.

We have never given up on investing. Even during the downturn, we never stopped investing. We invested in the car factory in Chakan when the economy was in recession; we also invested in the tractor plant in Zaherabad when the tractor market was witnessing a downturn. When the tractor market improved, we were able to increase our production. We always have a long-term view of the economy. We are constantly investing. In defense, for example, if the government starts buying again for the much-needed upgrade, then we will certainly make the investment. Pawan (Goenka) said that we are considering an investment of 4,000 crore rupees, which is independent of the new developments. That was something we were going to do.

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