For the second year in a row, India jumped 16 places on the Global Competitiveness Report giving a boost to the Government’s initiatives to improve the business environment and make India a preferred global business destination. India is also working on the weaknesses identified and the various initiatives are mentioned below.

World Economic Forum Competitive RankingIndia leapt 16 places to number 39 out of 138 countries rated in this year’s World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Global Competitiveness Report (2016 – 17). Continuing on its stellar performance last year where it had similarly risen 16 places on country’s “dramatic reversal” initiated by the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has made significant progress on infrastructure, where it has ranked worst. The ranking is based on the assessment on 12 parameters including infrastructure, market size, institutions and business sophistication. The report also highlighted some of the remaining problems of doing business in India: confusing tax regulations, corruption and others. The country’s biggest relative weakness today is in technological readiness, where initiatives such as Digital India could lead to significant improvements in the next years.

Global Innovation Index (GII) The GII aims to capture the multi-dimensional facets of innovation. India’s ranking in the GII-2016 jumped 15 places to 66th position. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) under the Ministry of Commerce has set up a task force on innovation with the aim of strengthening the eco-system of innovation in India and thereby further improve the country’s ranking in the GII. The work the task force includes examination of ideas received from the public on the best way forward in inculcating an innovation temperament in the country and to assess the contribution of Indian universities and academic institutions to innovation in different fields of studies. The task force has been given time of two months to submit its report to DIPP. Although the task force was set up much before the WEF released the aforesaid Global Competitiveness Report, this initiative shows that the Government has preempted the nation’s technological shortcomings.

India – Singapore MoU – Continuing its agenda to improve innovation, the Government has given its approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between DIPP and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), Ministry of Law, Government of Singapore in the field of Industrial Property Cooperation. The MoU will be signed at the upcoming visit of Singapore’s Prime Minister to India from 4-7 October, 2016. The MoU will enhance bilateral cooperation activities in the arena of Industrial Property Rights of Patents, Trademarks and Industrial Designs. It is intended to give a boost to innovation, creativity and technological advancement in both regions. The MoU will enable India to exchange experiences in the innovation and IP ecosystems that will substantially benefit entrepreneurs, investor and businesses on both sides. The exchange of best practices between the two countries will lead to improved protection and awareness about India’s range of intellectual creations which are as diverse as its people. It will be a landmark step forward in India’s journey towards becoming a major player in global innovation and will further the objectives of the National IPR Policy, 2016.

Goods and Services Tax (GST) Complimenting the need for removing confusing tax regulations as identified in the WEF Report above, the GST has now become the law with the President of India giving assent to the Constitutional Amendment. The Bill required to be ratified by a majority of Indian states, to enable the amendment to be effective, did not prove to be a roadblock. The Bill was sent to the President’s Secretariat after as many as 19 States ratified it. The passage of the Bill will pave the way for setting up a GST Council that will decide the tax rate, cess and surcharges. Headed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the Council comprises state Finance Ministers. The States and the Centre are working overtime and talking to stakeholders to draft the Central GST, State GST and Integrated GST laws, which are to be passed in the winter session of Parliament.

Korea Plus – The concerned commerce and trade ministries of India and Korea have launched Korea Plus, a special initiative to promote and facilitate Korean investments in India. Korea Plus, comprises of a representative from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Energy, Government of the Republic of Korea and representative from Korea Trade Investment and Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and three representatives from Invest India. India and the Republic of Korea relations have made great strides in recent years and Korea Plus will act as a catalyst in making these relations even more robust.

Posted by Sourish Mohan Mitra

Sourish Mohan Mitra is an India-qualified lawyer from Symbiosis Law School, Pune and currently working as an in-house counsel with a global research firm in Delhi, India; views expressed are personal; he can be reached at sourish24x7@gmail.com; Twitter: @sourish247

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