In a significant development towards digitization of non-corporate sector, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) at a Conference held today at New Delhi launched a wider forum ‘Alliance for Digital Bharat’ consisting of national organisations of traders, transporters, farmers, truck operators, SMEs, consumers, self-employed groups, women entrepreneurs & other verticals of non-corporate sector. The mandate of the Alliance has been set for development of a conducive atmosphere for digitization in non-corporate sector including trading community and launch a nationwide campaign to motivate & encourage the people to adopt technology in their existing business format. Proposed GST which is designed to be based on a digital platform coupled with various moves of the Government to encourage less-cash economy and financial inclusion of small businesses had necessitated the formation of an alliance which will become a common market in line with keeping at par, the goods & services in proposed GST. The Alliance will organise a National Economic Summit in November to have wider consultations on its mandate. Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also launched the website of ADB at the Conference.
Speaking at the launch, Minister of State, Nirmala Sitharaman said, “We are fortunate now that nobody looks at India with ‘nirasha’ anymore. India is now emerging as the grass root engine, along with few other countries in a world which is plagued with gloom across many parts. Our approach towards policy making is stakeholder inclusive and we feel it is the right way to move forward. Our government has and will always stand on making tough yet fair decisions and this philosophy flows directly from Honourable Prime Minister. It is encouraging to see that states today have much more confidence on the Centre and many times more than it ever was previously. GST, as a landmark tax reform, is bound to positively impact our economy and we are ready for it. Technology is going to play an important role and it is now upto us how best we prepare for it. Financial Inclusion or inclusiveness can only be achieved when we work with the entire ecosystem. Of course India is fast moving towards a cashless economy which rightly is the way forward. I congratulate the CAIT for being forward thinking and I am happy that the trader of today is thinking critically for the benefit of our tomorrow.” She further said that the suggestion to establish ‘Board for Internal Trade’ for the larger benefit of retailers, merchants, small business owners will be taken up the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and that it is needed now more than ever.
CAIT National President B.C. Bhartia informed that the Alliance’s objectives includes raising awareness levels, among its constituent, other such newer technologies, for the benefit of small business owners, largely include online marketplaces, e-commerce, digital payments, mobile wallets, cloud based accounting software and comprehensive use of social media for the purpose of aggressive marketing of smaller businesses whereas on the other side financial inclusion through MUDRA yojna is another priority of the Alliance. He further said that large chunk of small businesses in the Country is yet to adopt technology and therefore Alliance will play an important role of a catalyst to bring the non- corporate sector on board for the adoption of technology. As per an estimate about 70% of non- corporate sector including traders are still away from computerisation. Keeping all things in mind, the Alliance has decided to empower and equip the non-corporate sector about importance and acceptance of digital technologies which is expected to drive future course of small & medium sized businesses in India. The intent of the Alliance will be to design and propagate a set of principles, standards, policies and constraints and mutual support organization of different micro-merchant, trader and allied communities for the purpose of acceptance of adoption of emerging digital technologies.
CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that promotion of adoption of less cash payment system coupled with demanding simplified tax regime and favourable support policies including incentivising benefits for deeper percolation among the masses have been declared priority for the current administration as measures to boost this sector which has long remain neglected when compared with rapid strides the organised sector has made over the last few years. This move not only supports the Government’s intention to leverage its financial inclusion scheme, it also allows smaller business owners to realize impending benefits of these new age digital technologies. Given that the non-corporate sector forms the backbone of the Indian economy, this Alliance aims at being perceived as the single largest platform within the ecosystem that has proactively taken the progressive step to embrace technology.
He further said that unfortunately in absence of any specified rules & regulations, the e-commerce market in India has become an open play ground and e-commerce companies are engaged in several activities that are detrimental to small businesses and digital payment is one of the core payment system largely used in e-commerce. In the light of same, the Alliance has been formed to empower different verticals of non-corporate sector to meet the challenges besides impressing upon the Government to take proactive steps for fair competition boosting larger acceptance and adoption of several technological tools available today.
Complexity in understanding impending benefits, hesitation in maintaining websites along with necessary/added features such as payment gateways, and resistance to trust technologies such as cloud computing, are often cited as reasons not to avail these technologies. Added to this, dependency on private institutions for credit does not help even if a business owner is convinced to scale up its presence. Small & medium business are now moving beyond promotion and marketing related activities on social media and are increasingly realising benefits of being listed online as an e-seller.