MakeMyTrip chairman Deep Kalra urges India's startup community to come together

28 Dec, 2016

Deep Kalra, chairman of India's largest online travel services firm MakeMyTrip Ltd, has emphasised that the Internet companies need to have a consensus on policies, practices, and standards.

"There is an urgent need for the industry to come together and have a cohesive voice. On a single issue, there are different voices that go out," said Kalra, in an interview with The Economic Times on Wednesday. "Whether under the aegis of Nasscom (the Indian software industry grouping) or IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) or under a new body, I am agnostic. It's important all key stakeholders or a majority are represented at the highest level," he told ET. He went on to say there are a few regulations that put companies at a disadvantage, citing the example of two-factor authentication in digital payments. "Companies are actually disadvantaged. You want to be proactive and together to respond to laws that can take the industry by surprise," he added.

Kalra's comments come weeks after co-founders of Ola and Flipkart demanded a level-playing field for domestic companies and even suggested blockades against foreign firms.

Speaking at an event earlier this month, Sachin Bansal, co-founder of India's biggest e-commerce firm Flipkart and Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder of ride hailing service Ola played the 'nationalist' card and stressed on the need for an urgent government intervention to ensure a level-playing field between local internet companies and their global rivals, especially in their fundraising efforts.

"It is much easier for non-Indian companies to raise capital because they have profitable markets elsewhere. You might call it capital dumping, predatory pricing or anti-WTO, but it is an unfair playing field for Indian startups," Aggarwal had said at that time.

Bansal went a step further and called for a more India-centric approach when it comes to internet businesses than idealising standards set by other countries. "What we need to do is what China did and tell the world that we need your capital, but we don't need your companies," he said.

Earlier, Pranay Jivrajka, chief operating officer of Ola, was quite vocal in his criticism of what the cab-hailing service's 'unnamed rival' is doing to distort the taxi service market through disruptive pricing using foreign capital.

In his bit to put an end to the shouts of "foreign-owned", Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick, who was in India recently, said he would apply for an Indian citizenship if it could help the situation.