Rameesh Kailasam started his career as a fraud examiner for local governments and is now CEO of IndiaTech.org, the leading lobbyist for India’s new generation of internet companies. So far he’s helped convince local regulators to allow loss-making companies to IPO on Indian exchanges and introduce differential voting rights to protect the interests of Indian entrepreneurs against foreign powers.
What was the most important decision in your career?
Leaving my accounting job to go for an opportunity to work on governance reforms with the state government of Andhra Pradesh. It laid the foundation for me to better understand policy making issues, limitations, compulsions, opportunities and the intricacies involved with it. It also made me realize how a small tweak in law can unlock businesses, markets, livelihoods, capital, revenues and profitability.
Indian lobbying has been tainted by corruption scandals. How does the absence of a lobbying law in India make it so different from other countries?
Lobbying was considered a bad word in India primarily because it was often perceived to involve gratifications to get work done. Strange for a country which has always believed in the concept of an intellectual method of lobbying which was always practiced in ancient India. While India of the 70’s to 90’s always held lobbying in contempt, when I began my journey as a policy professional it was the beginning of having a better acceptance of this profession as more companies began to have dedicated personnel for this important function. Even the government at some points had thoughts about bringing about more transparency to this function similar to the US model. Personally I have supported the need for having a regulation and have been “lobbying” for it with the hope that one day as a country everyone would embrace and accept this profession.
What’s one piece of legislation or policy tweak that can transform the Indian startup ecosystem?
India’s phenomenal jump from the time we pledged gold as a country came with opening up of the markets but more importantly from the liberal approach we took around taxation for the IT outsourcing boom that ensured wealth creation and capital in India. The next boom we are witnessing today is around startups and emerging innovative and disruptive technologies. A 10-year liberal tax approach around capital gains backed by enabling regulations on new age tech startups can open the floodgates for wealth creation and put Indian startups on the world map while ushering India to a $10 trillion economy by 2030.
Having been a government liaison for almost 20 years, what are your learnings about lobbying and advocacy in India?
The British gave us bureaucracy and we mastered it. So for someone from the outside engaging with this structure, it is important to be patient and persistent while continuing to put logical literature and arguments across the table. While one may sound like complaining it is equally important to suggest alternatives that address the issue from different perspectives.
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