In 2014, India was ranked 142 in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Rankings. In 2015, it was 130. The otherwise self-assured joint secretary at the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), who is at the epicentre of the action around the ease of doing business reforms cannot help but betray a sense of nervous apprehension whenever he mentions October 25—the date when the rankings will be declared. Last year’s newspapers celebrated the jump in rank as a vindication of the government’s resolve. This year’s rank will certify if it still has the reform mojo intact.
A couple of years back, the new government had given DIPP an almost impossible task—improve ease of doing business in India and show results. Bureaucratic cobwebs accumulated from decades of over-regulation spread across myriad government departments, state governments, political affiliations and well-oiled middlemen and industries had to be done away with. Where does one start? How does one do it? How do you make the behemoth, chaotic machinery of the Indian government listen to one central government department?