India's economy is "looking up" after a weeks-long lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus, said panellists at a function to mark Business Standard's Annual awards for entrepreneurship.
"(Economic) recovery is slow but it was expected. People are starting to believe that we have to live with this virus. This is great,” said Hari Menon, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Big Basket, the online grocer.
Menon, who got the Start-up of the Year award, said his company got "tremendous momentum" in the lockdown as people confined to their homes ordered online. The lockdown had advanced Big Basket by 15 years in terms of growth and top line.
Vinati Saraf Mutreja, managing director and CEO of Vinati Organics, said her speciality chemicals company had done "quite well" in the pandemic. Mutreja said "demand and labour" were not affected for most part of the lockdown. The government must now focus on infrastructure after unlocking the economy, said Saraf Mutreja, who won the Star SME award.
AK Jana, managing director of state-owned Indraprastha Gas, said his company expected "complete normalcy" in the third quarter of the financial year. Jana, whose company won the Star PSU award, said domestic consumption of piped gas increased 30% during the lockdown. Consumption of compressed natural gas (CNG) had increased after the lockdown, reasoning that people were opting for a cheaper fuel for their cars as they avoided public transport.
Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, managing director and CEO of Bandhan Bank, said 95% of his customers wanted to return the money they had borrowed. "Future (economic) growth will be rural but there is no focus on rural—banks to have grow there,” he said.
Larsen & Toubro won the Company of the Year award and Wipro founder Azim Premji won the Lifetime Achievement award.
BUSINESS STANDARD CEO OF THE YEAR AWARD
Companies that "didn’t forget their customers" and cut costs succeeded in surviving the coronavirus pandemic, said Bhaskar Bhat, the former managing director of Titan Group, as he spoke about receiving the Business Standard CEO of the Year Award.
Bhat said he was "quite awestruck” on being honoured with the award, adding it represents the Titan Group's values.
"Titan has always been a restless company--it explores. Our successes have been visible and failures not so. Titan leveraged wonderful brands and it invested in people,” said Bhat.
"Titan has been a breaker of rules but not for the sake of breaking rules. It has been a trendsetter in entering unprecedented areas”. Bhat said he believed the worst impact of the coronavirus on India's economy is over and aspiration of Indian people to better their lives will be a great "consumption driver".
"I'm and hoping and believing that lockdowns won’t be introduced again. We will have to live with the virus,” he said, referring to the weeks-long restrictions imposed in the country to contain the spread of the disease.
Bhat retired from Titan in October 2019, working for 17 and half years as its Managing Director and spending 33 years with the company.