'The dream of a startup is shattered,' said an industrialist
A video going viral shows Raghunathan, from the Consortium of Indian Association, voicing his pain about how entrepreneurs of micro industries struggle.
An industrialist, KE Raghunathan, has uttered in public what these news channels would hear out in private but did not dare declare from their TV pulpit. "Today, the dream of a startup is shattered. We cannot raise our voice; we are not able to express ourselves, we are not being heard. We are not able to convey our pain. An entrepreneur can never ever cry openly." These are KE Raghunathan's words from the Consortium of Indian Associations and the Solkar Solar Industry CMD.
An entrepreneur, Raghunathan, was at the gathering of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) representatives in Coimbatore, which Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi met and addressed on Saturday. The video that is now going viral is of Raghunathan voicing his pain of how entrepreneurs of micro industries are struggling. "What are we witnessing in this country? We moved from Skill India, Digital India, Make in India, Atmanirbhar Bharat, and finally ended where? Fund India, which is FDI. We are opening up, asking others to give us money," he told Rahul.
"Out of 7 crore entrepreneurs, MSMEs, 30 percent are almost dead. What is 30 percent? 2.1 crore…. That 2.1 crores give jobs to almost 20 crore people. They are not bothered. We are seeing only the balance 60 percent and saying 'green shoots'. I see shooting myself as an entrepreneur. How are we progressing? What answer will I give to my children?" added Raghunathan. "You are the only voice for us. Don't forget it," he told Rahul.
He says that banks and NBFCs are chasing entrepreneurs like him from micro industries, and that the newspaper is filled with option sale notices and financial position notices. He believes that micro-enterprises must have their own ministry. Speaking to TNM, Raghunathan said everything he said; he spoke from his heart and has come from the feelings of the people he has spoken to from the organization he represents.
"Nothing has been done, so Today we are all facing problems. Not every issue may go to the Supreme Court. Even in the Supreme Court, the verdict on interest has not been declared. It has been going on since September. Do you think the banks are keeping quiet?" he asked. Talking about the sector's problems, he said, "They have not consulted us, they have not given us an opportunity to express our problem. That's why I spoke my mind."
He said that he would have said the same at a conference of the Union government as well, and his job is to convey the problem. "Whoever wants to solve it can raise it at the appropriate level to do so, but it has to be solved. If it is not solved, inflation will be the highest in this country and NPAs will be the highest, unemployment is the highest. That's all I'm concerned about," he said.
Raghunathan's comments also come ahead of the Union Budget, with many expectations riding on steps the Union government will take to revive the economy. This comes after the economic stimulus package was announced last year.
When asked about expectations from the Budget, Raghunathan wants the government to address micro-enterprise issues that continue to be hounded by banks that would rather invest in digitization than in lowering interest rates. He also hopes the Budget will have something for startups whose plans have been derailed because of the pandemic while also addressing unemployment.
When asked about the Congress party leader's reaction post the event, Raghunathan said that Rahul told him that he opened his eyes. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi is currently in Tamil Nadu, launching his party's Tamil Nadu Assembly elections campaign. On Saturday, Rahul Gandhi spoke in Coimbatore. He launched a strongly-worded attack against the BJP, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of partnering with prominent businessmen and 'selling' everything that belonged to the people.
Addressing the people from an open van in Coimbatore, Rahul, on the first of his three-day campaign trail, said, "Narendra Modi uses the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate to get what he wants. He thinks since he controls Tamil Nadu's government, he can control the people of Tamil Nadu. The people of the state will prove that Narendra Modi cannot control the people of Tamil Nadu," he said.