“Send me a letter,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told N Chandrasekharan of the Tata Sons when the latter spoke about problems with red tape when it came to the import of ventilators. That was the business-like tone and tenor of the meeting of the PM with captains of industry and heads of industry bodies from all over the country to take stock of the situation arising out of the Covid19 health crisis.
While Modi also focused on the humanitarian touch asking companies to “allow the employees to work from home”, industry heads came up with ideas on what needed to be done in this hour of crisis facing India and the world.
FICCI representatives offered to convert 5000 rooms in hotels across the country into Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in quick time, that suggested India is possibly bracing itself for a severe outbreak. CII promised that its member companies will help scale up manufacture and availability of equipment needed to deal with medical emergency including sanitisers, essential drugs and also build a cadre of volunteers for public service.
The South Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) focused on the disruption of the education schedule, suggesting that this was an opportune time to align the academic calender with the international calender and make it start from September. Another suggestion put forth was to utilise 25 per cent of funds available with religious trusts towards creating clean quarantine facilities and addition of hospital beds and ventilators.
The Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry suggested that the government refrain from recovery proceedings in the form of attaching bank accounts for non-payment of GST in time.
Another suggestion was to ask the RBI to open a helpline at low rates of interest. It was also suggested to initiate a direct transfer to those in low income groups.
The consensus across the video conference was this could be a good opportunity to promote `Make in India’.