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Start-ups will catalyse entrepreneurship: Rajeev Chandrasekhar


New Delhi: India’s recent focus on start-ups will catalyse entrepreneurship to create jobs and help in tapping the country’s demographic dividend, which may prove to be a competitive advantage in the global economy, Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrasekhar has said.

“This focus on start-ups is important in many different ways – as an alternate to big corporate India’s lack of investments into the economy, as a way of catalysing entrepreneurship to create jobs, and as a way of tapping the demographic dividend of India as a competitive advantage in the global economy,” Chandrasekhar said here on Friday evening at an interactive session on Net neutrality and start-ups.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Start-up India, Stand-up India’ action plan last week.

Chandrasekhar said start-ups in India have had two traditional significant obstacles. One, the apathy, corruption, red tape of government and its policies to those without ‘connections’. And second, the destructive power of big corporates in India who, through their political power and influence, can stop dead a start-up if it attempts to compete with them.

“I have experienced both first hand, and so, can testify to the power of both to disrupt the best start-ups. It is this that makes most start-ups focus on the tech sector because of the minimal influence of government and corporates into that space,” Chandrasekhar said.

“But it’s necessary for our policy makers to address these issues with deeper structural reforms that broadens the start-up India appeal to non-tech sectors,” he added.

He said the open nature of the Internet has spurred innovation and enabled startups to flourish. “The success of Google, Facebook or of several Indian startups, including those founded by the below signatories to this letter, is a result of the open nature of the Internet that permitted innovation without any entry barriers.”

But he slammed the telcos, saying telecom firms that control access to the Internet will try and creep and acquire control on parts of the Internet to gain part of that value.

“But in contrast, a start-up needs unfettered access to the Internet, without telcos controlling and gatekeeping access to parts of the Internet in an anti-competitive manner.”

“If government policy permitted this, it would in a sense negate all the pluses accruing from the start-up India action plan announced by the government, as start-ups would have to pay the telcos an ‘access fee’ or get into some commercial arrangement whereby they pay the telco to get ‘preferential access’ to their web content over others,” he added.

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