India’s ‘Regulatory Cholesterol’ Still Obstructs Ease Of Doing Business

Bloomberg | Quint | BQ Desk | July 12, 2020

India's notorious red tape continues to hamper ease of doing business despite recent gains. Businesses have to deal with a combined 1,536 acts, 69,233 compliances and make almost 7,000 filings in the country, an analysis by TeamLease, a staffing, regulatory and compliance management firm, showed. States with larger economies such as Gujarat and Maharashtra have more than 3,000 compliance requirementes each.

To convert Atmanirbhar Bharat into reality, Modi needs to wage a war

Observer Research Foundation | Gautam Chikermane, Rishi Agrawal | July 4, 2020

For Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 12 May 2020 political slogan of Atmanirbhar Bharat to become a reality, he will have to wage a war. In this war, words and slogans will not do; at best they will be a starting point. This war will challenge an enemy that is deeply and integrally embedded in the political economy of India. It will have to obliterate the vested interests of a corrupt establishment. It will have to destroy carefully-created edifices of an unaccountable, entitled and rent-seeking economic system where the incumbent beneficiaries will fight back.

Rationalisation, decriminalisation, digitsation: The three-pronged view to reduce MSME compliance burden

Financial Express | Rishi Agrawal | June 30, 2020

Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: The burden of compliance for MSMEs is disproportionately high while their resources are limited. They need to deal with 27 licenses, registrations, permissions and consent orders.

Regulatory Changes in India in the Time of COVID19: Lessons and Recommendations

Observer Research Foundation | Gautam Chikermane, Rishi Agrawal | June 10, 2020

This report tracks the changes to India’s business regulatory framework in the first 40 days of the nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 virus. The Union and state governments have been highly proactive in creating spaces for doing business while managing the ongoing health crisis. The governments have attempted to modify the business-related legal infrastructure within the confines imposed through the lockdown.

Labour Reforms: Drug of choice for economic resuscitation during Covid-19

TaxGuru | Rishi Agrawal | May 16, 2020

The huge economic costs of Covid-19 virus are clearly visible. Everything that India does to kill the virus is killing the economy. The Centre and States have done well to protect lives so far. However, it is time to move forward and protect the livelihood as well. Restarting the stalled economy is an unprecedented public policy challenge.

Work from home: Employee benefits set for overhaul as companies redraft rules

live mint | Kalpana Pathak, Romita Majumdar | May 16, 2020

Mumbai: Companies are taking a relook at employee benefits and employer liabilities as a majority of their staff work from home amid the lockdown. Human resource consultancy firms say companies are increasingly trying to understand how liabilities change for them going forward, as a vast workforce remains at home.

COVID19: Shivraj Singh Chouhan initiates Reforms 2.0 in Madhya Pradesh

ORF | Gautam Chikermane, Rishi Agrawal | May 8, 2020

India’s encounters with economic reforms remain steeped in disbelief. Or, shall we say, preconceived notions, anchored in the status quo of the past, prevent us from observing, leave alone celebrating, them. The underreporting of ground-zero reforms unleashed by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on 7 May 2020 is a classic case. Perhaps, it is to do with the language Chouhan used — Hindi, and not English. Or, it has been downplayed in the national media because these policies pertain only to the state of Madhya Pradesh. Or, and we believe this could be the biggest reason, the inherent bias against the BJP (that the Party and BJP-governed states) can and will do nothing on economic reforms.

COVID-19: Yogi Adityanath attempts reforms, delivers regulatory chaos in Uttar Pradesh

ORF | Gautam Chikermane, Rishi Agrawal | May 8, 2020

The 8 May 2020 notification by the Uttar Pradesh government suspending all labour laws is unconstitutional and regressive. Hurriedly drafted with little more than a short-term outlook, it will not attract any investment into India’s most populous state. Worse, it could create labour-capital hostility and cart the state back to the 1970s, with constant clashes between trade unions and managements.

As India readies to work from home, a compliance alert

ORF | Rishi Agrawal | March 19, 2020

Every economic shock leaves a legacy. The deadly coronavirus will be no different. This time it’s a public health emergency that’s shaking up the world economy. In just a few weeks, Coronavirus has changed how we meet and greet each other, how we work and how our children are educated. Offices around the world are empty. This has unwittingly sparked off a giant global experiment in mass remote working. Our work environment is suddenly being reinvented. What demonetisation did to digital payments, corona may end up doing to the future of work. Remote working is an idea whose time has come.

Companies can lay off employees after contract, season is over; bill tabled in Lok Sabha

| Samrat Sharma | Nov. 27, 2019

Rishi Agrawal, CEO and CoFounder of Avantis Regtech and Rituparna Chakraborty, VP, TeamLease Services share their views on the Industrial Relations Bill 2019 tabled in the Lok Sabha on 28th November 2019.

Govt must lead by example and respect the contracts it enters into

| Sumita Kale | Nov. 13, 2019

In its quest to reach the top 25 in EoDB ranking, India may find it quicker to move ahead in other parameters, for contract enforcement, the challenges are deeply rooted.

The gain and the pain of ease of doing business in India

| Sumita Kale | Oct. 28, 2019

In its update on the first 100 days of the new government, the DPIIT announced that the National Ease of Doing Business Policy has been finalised. While specific details are not yet out in the public domain, this policy reportedly puts the onus on government departments to measure the time and cost spent by companies on licences, registrations, renewals and the like and work towards rationalising the burden, simplifying and digitising the compliance process. Done well, the National Ease of Doing Business Policy can mark a paradigm shift in the way the government views regulation. Easing the compliance burden is the game-changing move that our businesses need to unleash their productivity, the move that we desperately need to realise our goal of a 5 trillion dollar economy, the move that will take India into the top 25 ranks in the world.

India’s Ease of Doing Business rank no cheer for MSMEs

| Sumita Kale | Oct. 23, 2019

When it comes to delayed payments, a digital, impersonal, transparent solution should have a better impact than a compliance driven one. In any case, the government should do away with the MSME Form 1, which is the half yearly return with the Registrar of Companies on outstanding payments to micro or small enterprises. Instituted early this year, this form asks all companies, including MSMEs, to give details on outstanding dues to micro and small companies, and reasons for those. This half yearly return has increased the compliance burden on MSMEs and more pertinently, the additional paperwork has had no impact on improving the culture of payments. As a starting point, the MCA can consider mandating this return only for large companies, with turnover more than Rs 250 crore.

India ranks 63 in World Bank's Ease of Doing Business

| | Oct. 23, 2019

Rishi Agrawal, Co-Founder and CEO Avantis Regtech Pvt Ltd For the third year in a row, India has been one of the top improving economies in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking. This reflects the government's determined push towards reforms. India's rank has improved from 77 last year to 63 this year. India's reforms have stood out in four categories out of 10 - Starting a new business, Dealing with construction permits, trading across borders and resolving insolvency. This is extremely commendable. Further, there is a strong possibility that India breaks into the top 50 next year, the reforms since June 2019 (including the rate cut for corporates, easing GST returns process etc.) will be reflected only in the exercise next year. However, despite this creditable achievement, Indian businesses continue to be plagued by a high compliance burden of over 58,000 compliances, more than 3000 returns and over 2500 changes every year. To give just one instance of the high compliance burden, for a startup working from a home office or shared space, within its first year, it needs to obtain registrations under at least seven regulators and file a minimum of 18 returns to a maximum of 69 returns - this has to be rationalised at the earliest. The government needs to be focused on reforms in the three vector framework of rationalisation, digitisation and simplification, particularly in the categories that continue to stand out with poor performance - starting a new business (Rank 136), registering property (Rank 154) and enforcing contracts (Rank 163).

“Reducing compliance burden key for safe food”

| Nandita Vijay | Oct. 13, 2019

An interview with Rishi Agrawal, co-founder and CEO, Avantis Regtech on the compliance burden in food processing industry in India.

The steel frame has become a cage. A $10-trillion economy needs deep civil service reform

| Manish Sabharwal | Oct. 8, 2019

Manish Sabharwal highlights the need for civil service reform " Cutting edge economics views development as a game of scrabble where vowels provided by the government enable the private sector to make more words and longer words. The current civil service fails to provide enough vowels; the steel frame has become a cage"

Key Challenges faced by Compliance Officers in India

| Rishi Agrawal | Oct. 1, 2019

Rishi Agrawal explains the key challenges faced by Compliance Officers in India and why a digital compliance management solution is critical for companies.

Trimming The Vexatious Angel Tax: Where It Puts India On Growth Map

| Rishi Agrawal | Sept. 29, 2019

Even as government policy is to encourage startups, the tendency to get bogged down in fine details in compliance hurts the ecosystem. For a startup working from a home office or shared space, within its first year, it needs to obtain registrations under at least seven regulators and file a minimum of 18 returns to a maximum of 69 returns. While framing policy and compliance in India, the government should keep in mind that this segment is particularly sensitive to regulatory uncertainty, lack of clarity and frequent changes. More moves towards ease of doing business will unleash innovation from young entrepreneurs

TeamLease launches compliance aggregator app Rulezbook to simplify filings

| Sonal Khetarpal | Sept. 5, 2019

To simplify the regulatory and statutory universe, human resource company Teamlease has launched an AI-based compliance content aggregator app Rulezbook to help individuals and companies get updates on changes in compliances that are relevant to them in a language that is easy to understand, all in real time. Users can also register on their website to get personalised updates in their inbox to be on top of their game. The Rulezbook App (available for download from the Google and Apple stores) can be personalised on the basis of an employer, policy maker or individual's interest, geography of operations, sectors and other details. It is available free of cost to all users.

Staffing firm TeamLease launches website to track rules on compliances

| Prachi Verma | Sept. 4, 2019

Teamlease Services has launched a compliance cloud -website called and an app RulezBook through its regulatory technology (regtech) subsidiary-Avantis. The website and app will help employers or companies in getting access and track rules and filings on compliances.

Teamlease launches web portal to help firms navigate compliance repository

| Somesh Jha | Sept. 3, 2019

TeamLease Services, a human resource firm, launched a web portal through which companies in India can keep track of a comprehensive set of compliance rules and regulatory filings at the state, central and local level. It also launched a mobile application, Rulezbook App, for a similar purpose. In India, companies are required to take care of 58,726 compliances, involving 1,074 Acts related to labour, finance, taxation, secretarial, commercial and industry specific rules and it involves 3,069 annual filings. Of this, most compliances are related to the labour laws, both at the state and the central level. “At present, there is no repository of this sort in the country. This is real-time in nature and companies can get regular updates on regulations and compliances delivered to them on e-mail based on their requirements. This is a free of cost service which will enable 'ease of doing business'," Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder and executive vice-president at Teamlease Services said, while launching the product.

Startup founders cheer withdrawal of Angel Tax; say decision will boost ecosystem | HARICHANDAN ARAKALI | Aug. 25, 2019

“The pain felt by startups has been heard,” Rishi Agrawal, co-founder and CEO of Avantis Regtech, said in an email to Forbes India. “This will go a long way in easing the initial capital funding challenges for startups,” he said.

Taxing times: Compliance complexity a big challenge for businesses | Sumita Kale | Aug. 21, 2019

India’s tax challenge is not the rates per se, it lies in the complexity of compliance. Indian businesses struggle with more than 9,000 compliances and 600+ filings, and there have been more than 600 updates over the past year

Avantis Regtech sees compliance as a critical component in pharma sector to improve its performance | Nandita Vijay | Aug. 19, 2019

Avantis Regtech, a SAAS solution provider, sees that pharma compliance is critical across drug manufacture to marketing. This is because compliance requirements reduces operational, reputational and financial risks. Regulatory compliance is top on the agenda as Indian firms are looking to spend a higher proportion on capex for upgrading infrastructure for regulatory compliance over the next decade. Our web and mobile platforms, enable a transparent, accountable and efficient risk and compliance management. Indian businesses are finding it increasingly challenging to cope with the increased regulatory compliance burden. The pharmaceutical sector is particularly hard hit. Our clients in pharma sector have reported significant improvement in the ease with which regulatory compliance is now being met as our web and mobile based platforms, enable a transparent, accountable, efficient real-time compliance management system, said Rishi Agrawal, co-founder and CEO, Avantis RegTech.

It’s time to change the way India does business | Rishi Agarwal & Sumita Kale | July 12, 2019

In her Budget speech, Nirmala Sitharaman put a greater spotlight on Ease of Doing Business through many measures—simplifying GST process, e-assessments for tax, interchangeable Aadhaar and PAN, etc. The government’s intent to further simplify procedures, reduce red-tape and make the best use of technology was clearly set out. However, there was no reference of a refreshing, revolutionary move that is already on the cards. A draft Cabinet note has reportedly been circulated last month on the National Ease of Doing Business Policy, where, for the first time, we see the government holding the bureaucrats accountable for the compliance requirements they place on businesses.

Opinion | A good nudge to relieve businesses of regulatory sludge

Live Mint | Sumita Kale | July 12, 2019

Now that India’s policymakers have taken on board Richard Thaler’s principle of nudge, it is time to get them moving faster on another track he has been advocating recently—removing sludge.

Why Ease Of Doing Business Is Vital For Indian Startup Ecosystem

Inc42 | Rishi Agarwal | July 3, 2019

The Indian startups have been rising mainly due to increasing aspirations of educated youth. Government initiatives like ‘Make in India’ and ‘Startup India’ are aimed at creating a conducive ecosystem for business growth and are working towards promoting ease of doing business in the country.

The changing nature of jobs

Economic Times | Sumita Kale | June 30, 2019

Most young Indians look for a permanent, preferably government, job, which incidentally also works well for the marriage market. Unfortunately, such jobs are really in short supply and not set to increase in the future. So often we see news like this – “more than 50,000 graduates, 28,000 PGs and 3700 PhDs have applied for 62 vacancies of messengers in the UP Police’s telcom wing, for which minimum eligibility is Class V”! The preference for a government job is due to the respectability it brings, and the assurance of a job for lifetime followed by a pension. One way to ease the stress is by meeting the aspirations of the youth through New Age jobs.

Budget 2019 | Five things the government can do to boost jobs

Moneycontrol | Sumita Kale | June 21, 2019

The new government wants a $5 trillion economy by 2024. For this, the Union Budgets need a strategy to achieve around 8 percent annual growth. A critical component will be creating 80-90 lakh new jobs annually, to accommodate not just additions to our workforce, but also their aspirations.

Digitisation agenda for the Budget

Economic Times | Sumita kale | June 20, 2019

We usually do not think of the government as a leader in any consumer space, so most people are surprised when they hear that India’s biggest e-commerce portal is IRCTC, not Amazon or Flipkart. What’s more interesting however is that internet ticket reservation, which we all take for granted now, began way back in 2002, a visionary move at a time when net access was nothing like it is today.

Opinion | Tackling regulatory cholesterol to reduce our farm dependence

Live Mint | Manish Sabharwal & Sumita Kale | June 3, 2019

Writer C.S. Lewis said, “You can’t go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending." Indian farmers are poor because they have too many colleagues and the productivity programmed into these 45% of our workers generating 14% of our gross domestic product (GDP) represents a perpetual condemnation to poverty.

Meeting India’s aspirations through EoDB 3.0

Economic Times | Sumita Kale | May 29, 2019

All said and done, the challenge for any government lies in meeting the aspirations of its people. If we look back at how India’s aspirations have been changing, we find one sharp turning point coming in 1991. Check out for a collection of memories of the license-permit raj, that will sound unreal now to most Indians. Today’s youth knows and cares little about the headaches of the past. Ready to take on the world, armed with cheap data packs on their mobile phones, it is the aspirations of these Indians that the government has to take on.

Why NYAY won’t end poverty: Promise of income without work represents a panicked pessimism about India and her people

The Times Of India | Manish Sabharwal | April 22, 2019

The 1971 surrender by Lieutenant General AAK Niazi in Bangladesh with 93,000 soldiers is a perennial source of Pakistani shame. But history is kinder to General Niazi’s legacy; he was cut off from his army, his troops were low on rations, the local population was hostile, and he presided over East Pakistan for only two days. In other words, he faced an impossible situation.

Why Nyuntam Aay Yojana won’t end poverty

Economic Times | Manish Sabharwal | April 22, 2019

Poverty is not like cancer where every malignant cell must be removed or will come back. The 1971 surrender by Lieutenant General AAK Niazi in Bangladesh with 93,000 soldiers is a perennial source of Pakistani shame. But history is kinder to General Niazi’s legacy; he was cut off from his army, his troops were low on rations, the local population was hostile, and he presided over East Pakistan for only two days. In other words, he faced an impossible situation.

Creating a place for poetry in business

Business Standard | Manish Sabharwal & Sumita Kale | April 16, 2019

Business Standard Entrepreneurs now require fewer mandays, fewer documents and fewer trees annually to start a business Manish Sabharwal & Sumita Kale Last Updated at April 17, 2019 00:54 IST Follow this columnist The political adage of campaigning in poetry but governing in prose means election season often involves dangerous populist promises. Populist politicians often suggest Scandinavian social democracies as inspiration but forget that the World Bank’s Ease of...

Back Again From Rules to Deals

The Economic Times | Manish Sabharwal | April 3, 2019

One reason India remains poor is because of its regulatory policy of ‘Show me the person and I will show you the rule’. This has led to the notion that rules in this country are made, tweaked and enforced according to the wealth/power/connection of individual under investigation. Before the 1991 reforms, entrepreneurs spent half their time in Delhi because a licence meant ‘hostages’, not ‘customers’.

View: Congress' Nyuntam Aay Yojana simply doesn’t work

The Economic Times | Manish Sabharwal | March 27, 2019

Poverty eradication needs moving Indians to more productive sectors. By Manish SabharwalCongress, this week, proposed the transfer of Rs 6,000 a month into the bank accounts of 50 million families comprising the poorest of the poor with its Rs 3.6 lakh crore minimum income scheme, Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY), if voted into power.

It’s a wage crisis

Indian Express | Manish Sabharwal | Feb. 14, 2019

The debate around unemployment is unhelpful — since 1947, unemployment has bounced between 3-7 per cent of India’s labour force. But reconciling this mathematical accuracy with our painful poverty — it has bounced between 25-75 per cent of our population since 1947, based on your definition of needs, wants and desires — needs an understanding of the “self-exploitation” theory proposed by the Russian economist Alexander Chayanov in the 1920s. <

Diagnosing the job crisis

Indian Express | Manish Sabharwal | Jan. 18, 2019

What makes farm loan waivers attractive election rhetoric? Why did the new Madhya Pradesh government mention restrictions on inbound out-of-state migration? And will the 10 per cent economically backward reservation be enough when less than 1 per cent of new jobs are government jobs? I make the case that all three interventions are symptoms of one disease — India’s millions of murdered formal MSME employers.

Opinion | Changing the Indian state from bully to ally

Live Mint | Manish Sabharwal & Sandeep Agarwal | Dec. 13, 2018

The next avatar of our EODB programme must aim to decisively shift the Indian state from being an MSME bully to an MSME allyA dictionary suggests that a bully is “someone who frightens someone else” and an ally is “someone who helps and supports someone else”. Do our 63 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) view the Indian state as a bully or an ally? <

Ludo vs Snakes & Ladders

Indian Express | Manish Sabharwal | Nov. 28, 2018

Ludo and Snakes & Ladders are both very different games even though both involve rolling a dice. Ludo is more laborious, but you know where you are going, and you will eventually get there. In Snakes & Ladders, the ladders create an illusion of accelerating progress, but the game has more snakes than ladders, the snakes are often longer than ladders, and progress is therefore volatile, patchy and unpredictable. I’d like to make that case that a) success in creating fertile habitats for formal job creation — ease-of-doing business (EODB) — is more like Ludo rather than Snakes & Ladders and the work of decades, b) India’s move from 142 to 77 in EODB rankings over the recent past is a self-fulfilling prophecy that should be celebrated more, and c) our urgent and unfinished agenda in EODB is regulatory rationalisation and civil service reform. Let’s look at each in more detail.

Ease of Show Business

Economic Times | Manish Sabharwal & Rishi Agarwal | Aug. 26, 2018

In 1948, Vallabhai Patel wrote to Jawaharlal Nehru, "The economic malaise the country has been suffering continues because we have been unable to secure the cooperation of Industry. Unfortunately, for India's youth and business, the 1955 Avadi Congress resolution ignored his concern and began and multi-decade discouragement of cooperation with industry that made India a hostile habitat for private Job Creation.

Avantis - Transforming Your Governance, Risk and Compliance Processes

CIO Review | Emmanuel Cristi Das | Oct. 6, 2017

Avantis bring highly flexible, scalable and secure technology which is user-friendly. The company has automation solutions in Compliance, Audit, ICFR and Loan against Shares Management. Avantis solutions help businesses migrate from ad-hoc, people-dependent and manual processes to institutionalized, process-oriented and automated processes.