For a good part of FY17, it was business as usual. While there were niggling problems like creaking infrastructure, quality of labour and rising cost of raw materials to contend with, the road ahead till March exhibited no symptoms of being unremarkably different. All that changed in early November as businesses across the country were caught unawares.
The Prime Minister’s decision to demonetise the Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 notes, ostensibly to reduce the soaring level of black money, left many a business in complete disarray. Though things are getting back to normal, it hit many enterprises hard. By any yardstick, it is demonetisation that is the overarching theme across enterprises. The issue has affected them in varying proportion depending on a host of factors such as how much cash they handled, their dependence on the domestic market, and the uncertainty on how quickly their debtors will pay them. Equally, there are businesses like four-wheelers and cement in some pockets that have remained unscathed by the phasing out of existing currency.
This year, too, Outlook Business’ team of reporters travelled to eleven industrial clusters — Baddi, Ludhiana, Guwahati (the first time the north-east has been covered since this special edition got underway in 2009), Raipur, Coimbatore, Erode, Kochi, Gulbarga, Chakan, Ankleshwar and Ahmedabad