With 5 Cr People Dependent On Event Industry, The Government Needs To Hear Us Now
The industry needs to get the status of an organised sector and continue to engage with the officials in a much more unified way.
Continuing to engage with the government as a unified voice has been the foremost concern of industry bodies and leaders during the past whole year of the pandemic. Same has been the case with the event industry which is trying to get the due recognition that it deserves to stay afloat in these dire times.
The events and entertainment industry comes under 8 different ministries of the government and it is time now that the industry gets access to a coordinating committee at the secretary level, where twice or 4 times a year, industry associations like EEMA & FICCI can represent their members and their needs to the government. The industry needs to get the status of an organised sector and continue to engage with the officials in a much more unified way.
The industry leaders believe that for every million dollars of investment in the events sector, it can create 99 to 113 jobs which is evidently more than the manufacturing or any other sector in the country. The industry looks after a massive 400 million people getting primary or secondary income from this larger sector and for as many as 75 years there has been absolutely no mapping of how many people are actually engaged with the industry.
There is still room for a lot of dialogue exchange with the government. As an unorganized sector the events industry has a considerable impact on the GDP of the country and the government should not take the risk of ignoring it.
Here is what industry leaders have to say about how the government has been reacting to their expectations and the way ahead for the industry:
Sanjoy K Roy, Managing Director, Teamwork Arts
I attend at least one meeting a week with a state government or a senior bureaucrat and with the central government. But do they listen? No, they don’t. When it comes to political events or their family weddings, they certainly look to us and they will break the laws to ensure that it can happen. But they do not take us seriously or look at us as creating jobs.
Today, there are 8 different ministries at the central government level that look after the events and entertainment. I think we are the step children as we do not come under the purview of any ministry, there is no relief given to us. The Chief Ministers of Uttarakhand and Assam are saying that there is no Covid here, you can come to our states and yet we are told that events can’t be held, funerals can’t be done but political rallies can continue. And the fact is that this industry in India alone is worth 50 thousand crores is of no value to any government.
Siddhartha Chaturvedi, CEO, Event Crafter & General Secretary, EEMA
The events industry has been completely ignored. Right now, we really need to do something collectively and be heard even louder.
We approached the Finance Minister right before the budget. There are multiple things that we had asked for. There should be subsidized employment of 50% of employees- the salaries should be given by the government; we need the deferment of statutory liabilities for a period of 12 months; provide the industry with a refund of 3 years of the GST we have paid; at least 24 months of moratorium to be given on all principles and interest payments on loans; immediate processing of term and working capital loans for us to be able to run; special grant for EEMA to upskill the members and their employees to venture into digital/virtual events. We have asked for a lot but we have not received anything.
Aarti Mattoo, Managing Director, Momentum Events & Vice President (West), EEMA
We initiated creating the SOPs for the industry, thinking that we do not want to over-burden the government. We have been very proactive but I don’t think that we have got our due. It is not just about the event agency owners but also about the 5 crore people who are attached to the industry and whose survival depends on this. Be it a labourer or a contractor, a fabricator or a florist to people who actually get the industry going.
It is not just us but the government also needs us all the time. For their political rallies, events, reaching out to audiences and vote banks. We need us to be heard and there is a need for action now, we are asking for a fundamental right to be able to do our business.
Sushma Gaikwad, Co-Founder, ICE Global & Director, Wizcraft MIME
There are different political scenarios with changes in the government and the baton is handed from one government to another. The conversation and the sensitisation have to happen again, which is quite an uphill task. The seat at the table is not enough for a follow through. The follow through is required to be seen in policies, action points and partnerships which right now seems to be a big gap.
Industry status is absolutely important for us to be heard. Because today we have no home or no ministry that is looking into us and actually taking cognizance of what we do. I think we are not crying loud enough or screaming to be heard by the government.
(Excerpts from a panel discussion held at the 4th edition of BW Applause Experiential Marketing Summit 2021)
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