In response to a question from a Stanford University professor on how small stores in India will stand up to the e-com giants, Goyal said: “India has about 6 crore small stores that employ about 10 crore people. Large e-com platforms use big data and algorithms to promote products of their choice. As consumer affairs minister, my job is to ensure that people get full information of the products available and their choice is not limited to what the big companies want to promote.”
That’s where the “work in progress” ONDC comes into play. “The beta testing of this platform is underway. All platforms ( read even small shops) will be able to join this network. The small mom and pop stores can create small, localised networks. Once on ONDC, the consumer’s choice will increase exponentially. Supposing they want to order a bottle of water, they will know through this network that a neighbourhood shop has a particular one they want and can quickly deliver. They can then opt for this. While we can’t wish away the emergence of e-com (giants), this will give small stores visibility,” Goyal said.
He expressed confidence that ONDC will be the next fintech revolution in India. “Instead of one or two players becoming trillion dollar companies, this will enable 500 (small ones) to become unicorns.”
“India’s international trade will grow to $2 trillion by 2030. We will be at least a $30 trillion economy by 2047-50. These are exciting times in India and there are huge opportunities and potential back home,” he said.
Responding to the frequent “coal-bashing” in the west for carbon emissions, Goyal said: “We are working on clean energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuel. At the moment 10% ethanol mix is being used in fuel that will be doubled to 20% in three years. We will eventually have electric vehicles and then perhaps hydrogen-powered ones. Our target is to generate 500 giga watt clean energy by 2030. But coal-bashing is unfortunate. Everyone uses it as a source of low cost energy. Also you can’t outsource all your production to other places and then point fingers at them.”
The minister also met Indian origin entrepreneurs in San Francisco’s Bay Area to discuss how specific issues to start-up ecosystem can be made more friendly. He agreed to the request to set up a working group specifically for the purpose that would comprise top officials of various ministries concerned. “We are working to make compliance easier and the legal system more nimble. The focus is strongly on constantly improving the ease of doing business. We are open to suggestions,” he said.