Former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and economist Gyanendra Badgaiyan has been roped in as the CEO of Indiatech.org, the think-tank and lobby group set up by home grown Internet companies like Flipkart and Ola, as per sources close to the development. After Gyanendra Badgaiyan joins in the next few weeks, the lobby group is expected to start staffing up.
It was in the last week of September that sources close to the development had said that Indiatech will have a former IAS officer as CEO, who is expected to join in two to three weeks. Apart from this, other founding members are also rumoured to include online classifieds platform Quikr and Kavin Bharti Mittal’s Hike.
Badgaiyan was until recently heading the National Centre for Good Governance (NCCG), a government body which guides and helps implement good governance reforms through research, policy analysis, training and advocacy. Before NCCG, Badgaiyan was chief economist at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and a research fellow at the UN University.
It was in October last year that Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal was said to be in talks to create a lobby group focussed on consumer Internet startups. The aim was to form a trade association to solely fight for local companies such as Flipkart and Ola, with the government to create favourable laws for the local players against global competitors. In other words, the aim of the move was to weed out competition from foreign rival players like Amazon and Uber.
In December 2016, Flipkart and Ola co-founders urged the government to design policies which will favour homegrown companies and help them battle with foreign players. Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal, who has been leading the charge and voicing his opinion against the aggressive spending of companies like Amazon in India, will be the founding President and Chairman.
The group behind Indiatech believes that if home-grown Internet firms do not succeed, India will likely lose $10 Bn of FDI per year, $1 Bn of tax revenues per year and 1 Mn jobs that could have been created based on the numbers extrapolated from China, according to those familiar with the group’s views.
But the irony here is that that most of these startups advocating favours for homegrown players are heavily backed by the foreign investors. Flipkart the startup co-founded by the lobby group’s torch-bearer Sachin Bansal is not even registered in the RoC. It is registered as an entity in Singapore. Ola recently raised another $1.1 Bn funding round from foreign investors such as Tencent Holdings Limited, Softbank, in addition to other new US-based financial investors. How far this lobby group Indiatech, led by Ola and Flipkart, will be able to gain favour with government against foreign players remains to be seen.
(The development was reported by ET)