NuFFooDS industry's wish list to Modi government

07 July 2014 | Column | By Narayanan Suresh, Group Editor

India’s 15th Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken over the administration of our vast country amidst great expectations all around on May 26, 2014. The ‘out of the box’ diplomatic coup of getting the heads of all our neighbouring countries to be in attendance for his swearing-in ceremony, an unprecedented step, has further boosted the national sentiments. So now every segment of the society expects major miracles from Modi and his hand-picked compact team of ministers.

If the whole is nation is expecting a lot from the new Prime Minister, can the nutraceuticals industry be behind without its own wish list? The industry has been preparing this list for some time for the new government that was set to take over. After the General Elections were declared on May 16, the NuFFooDS Spectrum editorial team reached out to various sections of the industry and collated the list of actions that the Modi government needs to initiate in the short term.

The Modi government has come to power with the slogan, ‘Maximum Governance, Minimum Government.’ Scientific and impartial regulation is one of the key aspects of governance as it will set up a level playing field for all the players and foster a spirit of competition that will ultimately benefit the consumers as well as the industry. It is heartening to note that the NuFFooDS industry is looking forward to great regulations in almost all aspects of its operation.

The overwhelming response from different segments of the industry is that everyone looks forward to having an efficient regulatory regime. Almost all the suggestions related to the omnipresent food regulator, Food Standards and Safety Authority of India (FSSAI) refers to the need to have more clarity in the regulatory processes, set timelines for processing applications from industry, clarity in the rulings which do not lend to differing interpretations. Not one leader called for reducing the role of FSSAI. On the other hand, everyone looks at FSSAI as a regulator, on the lines of the insurance regulator, IRDA, which has done wonders to the insurance industry in the last two decades.

In fact, the call for a strong, separate regulatory regime has come from the large number of direct selling companies who have been rattled by the repeated arrests of Amway India’s chief. This sector has come to grief due to lack of regulation for these legitimate business activities which are unfortunately clubbed with the fly-by-night operators who swindle ill-informed public with various financial jugglery schemes. Direct selling companies account for a third of the nutra industry’s revenue and are vastly different from financial segment players because they deal mostly with physical product and avoid the middleman route to get better deal for the end customers. In fact, one of India’s leading consumer activists, Bejon Mishra of Consumer Guidance Society, has talked in detail about the benefits that accrue to consumers due to the presence of direct selling companies.

In fact, it will be great if the Modi government acts swiftly, brings in a separate regulatory regime for direct selling companies and unleash the entrepreneurial energies of the middle class who are the primary players in this game. It will also send out a clear message that foreign and domestic investors can hope to have stable, predictable regulatory environment.

Narayanan Suresh
Group Editor

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