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Slowdown a correction, liquidity problem behind us: Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran

N Chandrasekaran, economic slowdown, Tata Sons chairman, Tata group, Express Adda, N Chandrasekaran on economy slowdown, economy slowdown

Chandrasekaran in conversation with Indian Express Executive Director Anant Goenka and Financial Express Managing Editor Sunil Jain during Express Adda at Taj Lands End, Bandra. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)

THE CURRENT economic slowdown that India is witnessing is a “correction process” as the country has seen “excesses”, Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran said at the Express Adda on Tuesday. He, however, said that India is taking “too long” to correct these excesses.

“According to me, what we are going through is also a correction process. We have had excesses. I am not blaming anybody. These excesses have to be corrected. The only thing is we are taking too long to correct it. If so much of NPA (non-performing assets) is there, the fact is it is there. It has accumulated in front of our eyes. So this correction has to happen, but it has to happen fast,” said Chandrasekaran. “The slowdown is real, but I am optimistic about India,” he said.

He said the liquidity crisis that hit the non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) since the collapse of IL&FS last year is not cyclical and is largely over. “Liquidity problem is largely behind us. And I think it is a one-off, I don’t think it is cyclical... Capital will flow as long as we can execute,” he said.

Chandrasekaran was speaking with Anant Goenka, Executive Director, The Indian Express Group, and Sunil Jain, Managing Editor, Financial Express, at the Express Adda, an informal interaction organised by The Indian Express Group.

N Chandrasekaran, economic slowdown, Tata Sons chairman, Tata group, Express Adda, N Chandrasekaran on economy slowdown, economy slowdown

Chandrasekaran said India needs to reduce the disparity in the spread of income across its states. (Express photo: Pradip Das)

He, however, said the government needs to further simplify rules for businesses in India, and businesses should not be looked at with “suspicion”. “We have had successes and we have had failures... Business is not a bad word (in India). I think we need to simplify rules, at the same time we need accountability. I feel we need supervision, we don’t need suspicion. But these are hard to achieve,” said Chandrasekaran.

Commenting on the current government’s responsiveness to the concerns raised by the industry, Chandrasekaran said: “This government probably works harder than anyone else. I have found them very receptive on policy issues. I have not found a situation where I cannot put my point across. However, I cannot say whether that input will be taken. They may be getting more inputs and must be synthesising all of them to take a final call,” he said.

According to Chandrasekaran, India needs to do better in terms of execution. He said both the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) are historic decisions, but India needs to get better at the “speed” with which these should be implemented.

N Chandrasekaran, economic slowdown, Tata Sons chairman, Tata group, Express Adda, N Chandrasekaran on economy slowdown, economy slowdown

Saying that it is possible for India to become a $5-trillion economy, Chandrasekaran said, “to achieve anything, you need to have aspiration”. (Express photo: Pradip Das)

“Sometimes, it is better to do these things in a fall-forward manner. Even though you are not perfect, you keep going, fall, get up, and go again. But at the same time, some decisions which have very, very large impact, you’ve got to get them right... in the implementation. Otherwise, you lose a lot of momentum,” he said.

He also said India needs to reduce the disparity in the spread of income across its states. “Technology is the only way we have a chance to bridge this gap. Whether we bridge the gap or not, if we want a shot at it, it can only be done with technology,” said Chandrasekaran.

He said the country needs to allocate more money for research across sectors. “We need to promote research, we need to create high-paying jobs for researchers, otherwise we will create all the skills and they will go and join the industry and do everything but research,” he said.

Saying that it is possible for India to become a $5-trillion economy, he said, “to achieve anything, you need to have aspiration”.