It cannot be business as usual. This is an opportunity to usher in regulatory reforms.

Top industry captains are batting for livelihoods, as India readies to open up its economy. To save jobs, India needs to press the accelerator on further policy and regulatory reforms, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman and managing director, Biocon Ltd, said on Tuesday.

India also needs to quickly prioritize sectors that can mop up India’s huge workforce. Healthcare is one of them, she said. “There is a spotlight on healthcare. Finally, science and innovation are getting attention. The healthcare sector can be India’s next IT (information technology) sector, there is a huge employment opportunity,” she said.

Healthcare, she added, can create jobs at different levels, from the grassroots (primary healthcare workers) to tertiary professionals.

“The healthcare sector will also allow India to play in the self-reliance objective—in pharmaceuticals, bio-pharma, medical supplies and hospitals, among others. The sector is also capital-intensive. Unlike IT, there is a gestation period where one has to wait two years to get a payback. Third, healthcare is a huge export opportunity. But we need the same sops that the IT industry received in the past,” Mazumdar-Shaw said.

On regulatory reforms, Mazumdar-Shaw said digitization would make life easier for businesses. “It cannot be business as usual. We have been thrown into a digital world. One of the opportunities now is to bring about extensive regulatory reforms,” she said. “Today, because of virtual kind of audits and evaluations, we are able to get much faster regulatory approvals. This is an opportunity to start doing everything online and take out a lot of the transactions costs.”

Businesses must also take the sustainable development goals more earnestly, going ahead.

“Up until now, we used to look at the goals as a bunch of motherhood statements—nice to have in our annual reports. Today, more than ever, we realize that these are serious criteria without which you can’t have sustainable economic growth. I would like to look at poverty, hunger, economic equity, all the motherhood statements, in a serious way,” she concluded.

The article appeared in Live Mint on June 3, 2020.

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