Parts 1 and 2 of this series can be accessed here. Part 3 is titled Ramesh Abhishek creates his own Make in India via Kolkata! This is Part 4.
The Indian government had launched its ambitious initiative of Startup India on 16th January 2016 with the objective of supporting entrepreneurs, building a robust startup ecosystem and transforming India into a country of job creators instead of job seekers. The entire program is managed by a dedicated Startup India team headed by Mr. Ramesh Abhishek (RA) in the Department for Industrial Policy and Promotion (DPIIT). The dream of the Indian government to become the Startup hub of South East Asia has turned sour with numerous startups facing nightmarish bureaucratic hurdles even as the DPIIT team in charge of the program is making tall claims on project.
Let’s look at certain facts. As per the data on Startup India website as on June 28, 2019, the following can be observed:
|STARTUP INDIA SCORECARD|
|Startups Recognized till date||20,113|
|Startups funded till date through SIDBI Fund of Funds||218|
|Percentage of Startups funded through SIDBI Fund of Funds||1.08%|
|No. of Startups who have got tax exemptions till date||94|
|Percentage of Startups who have got tax exemptions||0.46%|
The main benefits of Startup India were to ensure easy funding and tax exemptions to Startups. The question is whether statistics above i.e 1% of Startups getting funded and 0.5% of startups getting tax exemption can be considered a success for Startup India?
Can Ramesh Abhishek answer these simple questions?
- Who approves the first level of start-ups recognition, time taken and on what basis?
- How many start-ups are recognized by DPIIT? Please provide year-wise break-up recognition.
- How many start-ups who applied for recognitions are rejected by DPIIT?
- How many start-ups are approved for Income Tax exemptions? We are getting conflicting numbers…
- How many start-ups are approved for angel tax exemptions?
- Can you list start-ups that are funded by the SIDBI fund of funds and the funding amounts?
- Which are the schemes / Benefits available for start-ups? (Like website lists Venture Capital Scheme, Support for International Patent Protection, Stand up India, Single Point Registration Scheme (SRPS), etc.). Please provide the list of No. of start-ups that actually availed benefited against respective schemes / benefits.
- Can start-ups quote their recognition number with any other authorities like Professional Tax, Shop Establishments, etc.? Is there any provision for the same or any benefits?
Singapore – still a preferred destination for Indian Startups?
Given India’s strong GDP growth and huge potential, India should be the hotbed of the startup ecosystem in South East Asia. However, several issues as highlighted above have literally halted the Startup bandwagon in India. Instead, Singapore continues to thrive as a favorite destination for Indian Startups due to the ease of doing business, lower tax rates, faster regulatory clearances and a hands-on approach to solving any and all problems.
Why Startup India is failing?
Several startup companies have complained via Social Media (see below) on the various difficulties faced by them. Why hasn’t DPIIT addressed these?
Angel Investors like @rajeshsawhney & others have stopped their investments due to #AngelTax issue. When will the Indian govt act?Seem the Indian Startup dream will die. @sreejithmoolayl @DIPPGOI @nsitharaman @amitabhk87 @ganeshk03 @DineshAgarwal @anilarch https://t.co/otPsyzfpjc
— Ayush bansal (@ayushbansal08) July 9, 2019
@narendramodi @PMOIndia I am a digital entrepreneur who for last 2 years has been struggling with #AngelTax. Even after CBDT exemption cases r not getting disposed favorably by CIT(A).
I believe only u can now help the startups. I am requesting a meeting to hear & help us. DAY-1
— Ashish (@1stPreneur) June 18, 2019
– First tax at angel under #angeltax 30%
– If they still survive then tax 25% on profit being unlisted company
– On exit tax 43% on moolah
That is the real reason behind #startup TV & all talk. #startupindia has become #taxitindia https://t.co/rBqWc0zsbo
— Sreejith Moolayil (@sreejithmoolayl) July 8, 2019
According to several startups and their founders, Angel Tax issue has again gone back to what it was prior to February order by DPIIT@DIPPGOI @maximojo @ayushbansal08 @1stPreneur @sreejithmoolayl #startup #AngelTax #Budget2019 https://t.co/URW3hLogmV
— Entrackr (@entrackr) July 8, 2019
— Dinesh Agarwal (@DineshAgarwal) July 7, 2019
Instead, we find that Mr. Ramesh Abhishek has been reduced to making tall claims on employment generation which has not been backed by action on the ground. There have been allegations of favoritism while disbursing funds to select AIF’s through the SIDBI Fund of Funds. Further, there have been murmurs of favoritism to certain Startups who have received tax exemption from the Inter-Ministerial Board.
When Nikunj Bubna wrote to the concerned minister Piyush Goyal and wondered if DPIIT under him can’t accept constructive criticism, Ramesh Abhishek promptly blocked him!
When he was at Forward Markets Commission (FMC) his daughter Vaneesa Agrawal was a consultant at Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Now that RA has moved to DPIIT, his daughter is having a startup that “assists” companies in seeking various things, such as Venture Capital for startups. See the picture below for more:
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should investigate this. There are several coincidences that would pop up. As mentioned in a previous article, Vaneesa Agrawal was working as a “Consultant” in several places at the same time, during the period FY2014-15 to FY2017-18. In a Whistleblower (WB) complaint to the Secretary, Central Vigilance Commission copied to Lokpal and investigative agencies, the WB has alleged that Ramesh Abhishek got his daughter appointed as a Consultant to several groups such as the Angel Network, Indian Angel Network, Angel Association Network of India etc. The quid pro quo in exchange of huge fees (paid in cash and cheque) is that RA would take the above groups to various committees of the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India. In essence, a bribe.
 Did Ramesh Abhishek use his contacts in Home Ministry to harass the suspected Whistleblower? Jun 7, 2019, PGurus.com