Even as leads convert to seats won, the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government is headed for a second consecutive term in office, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alone leading in over 285 seats in the 542-member Lok Sabha. This would be the first incumbent majority government that would return to office with a bigger mandate, since former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi stormed back to power in the 1971 general elections.
While the Sensex has cheered Modi’s victory, having breached the 40,000-mark in intra-day trade, what does this election verdict mean for India’s startup entrepreneurs? After all, this new-age business grouping found mention in the poll manifestos of the both the BJP and the principal opposition party, the Indian National Congress.
“It is great to see a clear majority that will ensure consistent, stable, well-articulated rules and regulations from the new government,” says K Ganesh, partner, GrowthStory, one of India’s largest entrepreneurship platforms, which promotes and runs startups. Adds Sandipan Mitra, CEO and co-founder of HungerBox, a Bengaluru-based B2B food-tech startup, “India has seen a tremendous boom in the startup ecosystem through initiatives such as Digital India and Startup India which are progressive steps taken by the government towards a healthier economy.”
The only way to ensure the success of these initiatives, adds Mitra, “is by allowing them more time, and stability of a government is the only way to ensure it”. Echoing similar sentiments, Bengaluru-based angel investor Nagaraja Prakasam, says, “An incumbent government getting a mandate again is good news since many initiatives that were started could continue without disruption.”
But Prakasam is concerned about specific issues. “Accredited angel investors and more simpler compliances for startups need to get some more attention,” he adds. The NDA government did come in for flak over the issue of angel tax, as several startups had received income tax notices with regard to angel funding they received. And clarity on the issue is still awaited.
“We look forward to a continued positive outlook towards the growth of the Indian startup ecosystem from the government and work alongside them to encourage our startups to take on the world,” says, Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice president and chief strategy officer, Nasscom, the country’s IT industry trade body which works closely with the startup community. “Last year alone, we added eight unicorns and in the first five months of this year, we already have three new members in the unicorn club.”
In January 2016, the NDA government announced the country’s first-ever startup policy, which made available a $1.5-billion fund for startups and provided tax breaks for them and their investors. Then there has been the Digital India initiative with India stack, a unified payments interface (UPI), and BHIM, a mobile payments app developed by the National Payments Corporation of India, which have helped create a digital economy that has benefitted e-commerce startups.
“My hope is that policy framework is not only maintained but also enhanced and sharpened. From a startup perspective, there are pending issues that require urgent attention such as simplification of GST, building the logistics network, etc,” says Dhiraj Agarwal, CEO and co-founder, Campus Sutra, a startup fashion brand. Adds Mitra of HungerBox, “Now the focus should be towards improving the support systems that compliment the growth of startups and further ease the regulations that’ll enable more startups to take shape.” Vinamra Pandiya, founder and CEO, Qtrove, concurs. “With regard to startups, I can say current pro-startup policies and the ability to discuss, debate and change certain old draconian policies will continue,” he says.