Manu Seshadri: Protect SMEs and Invest in Healthcare

Mr. Manu Seshadri recommends various public policy measures that can protect India's small and medium sized enterprises during the ongoing pandemic


Manu Seshadri

Rishika Menon

In an edition of NSoJ conversations held on May 5, 2020, Mr. Seshadri commented on the effect that the pandemic has on the small and medium industries of the country which constitute 40% of the workforce. The scale of unemployment is colossal across the globe and a similar situation follows in India owing to the fact that the SME sector that supports the economy is bearing the brunt of the lockdown. He suggested various measures that can support SMEs in India.

The first point to acknowledge is the importance of force majeure in business contracts during the ongoing pandemic. It is a doctrine of law that exempts parties in a contract from liability for failing to fulfill obligations in the case of an unforeseen event (war, strike, riot, crime, etc.).

According to Mr. Seshadri, India would likely benefit from a law similar to that of Singapore, where small business owners and professionals are protected under a 6-month deferral period. A law like this would prevent the sector from having the ground below their feet collapse with irreparable damage. This period of deferral is ideally to help businesses gain momentum before beginning to recover from what is identified as a major setback.

Commenting on the healthcare system, Mr. Seshadri draws from the example of Cuba. Although smaller and economically backward than India, the healthcare system in Cuba is far superior. He stated that it is important to understand that insurance driven private healthcare may be unable to withstand the effects of a pandemic, and that investment in public healthcare is vital.

View the video above for the talk and interaction with Mr. Manu Seshadri.

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