On October 31, Mr Niraj Sharan was felicitated as 'Star of India" at the South East Asia conference in Bangkok organized by the Indo Thai Chamber of Commerce and India Achiever's Forum.
Here is a summary of my conference address:
Thomas Friedman had said: The World is Flat. I am adding four more words to it; The world is flat and Geographies have become History. This is the world we are living in now – almost no Business geography! I spoke at the Global India Summit in Munich this June. Notice it was Munich and it was an India Summit. Today we are in Bangkok and talking of Emerging India. Welcome to the new world and to the new Business dynamics. A world where we as a Nation, as a Business Community and as Society, we are seeking answers to some of these challenges:
- How can you be global and yet Local in a market?
- How do you weave a large professional global enterprise and yet keep the Asian personal touch intact?
- How do you build a fiercely competitive capitalist economy and not loose sight of the whiff of “socialist” touch in ensuring community impact and improving lives of millions?
- How do Entrepreneurs learn to tap talent worldwide. Indians are good at certain things, Asia has specific talent, Europe has certain advantages, US excels in certain domains. How do you build a team, and motivate a team across geographies?
- How do you build an ecosystems of partners in each of these geographies that actually deliver for you?
MacDonald and KFC serve Chicken Tikka and Rice in India – it turned Vegetarian during last month’s festival season in India. They kept their proven systems and processes intact and adapted to the local market. Truly Iconic !
India as a country has embraced diversity over uniformity, freedom over control, chaos over order. This philosophical approach genuinely positions India, today, not only as an emerging economic force, but also a country which is well positioned to partner with other countries on diverse agendas. Partnerships do not just happen through policy statements and joint press releases. Global partnerships have to permeate down into the fabric of the country. India's approach towards, diversity, freedom and controlled chaos, lends itself very well for successful global partnerships.
Today, I would like to share some factors that influence global partnerships in the Indian context:
First, there are the India's internal needs: A few decades back, India was a socialist economy. Today, India has moved considerably closer to being a fiercely competitive capitalist economy. With globalism, citizens all over the world, including India, know of the latest 3G devices or luxury cars or super-fast broadband connections and want these top-of-the-line goods and services. Entrepreneurs in India realize that they need partnerships with foreign companies to maximize on the tremendous profit opportunity in Emerging India.
Second, there is the tremendously influential Indian Diaspora that continues to retain India's millennia-old value system of education and hard work. Through migrations over hundreds of years, Indians today are an integral part of the intellectual capital of every country they have adopted as their home - be it Singapore, Australia, the Gulf, Africa, Europe or America. Indians have always believed that a good education was their only chance to escape into a better life. This is true of children of Indian descent as well. To Indians worldwide, education lets them overcome barriers of race, ethnicity, language or accent.
In the past, Indians such as Amar Bose of Bose Speakers fame, Vinod Khosla of Sun Microsystems or Lakshmi Mittal of Arcelor Mittal focused on building enterprises within their adopted countries. The increasing purchasing power of the middle class in India has made Indian entrepreneurs include Emerging India into their web of global partnerships.
Third, a keystone of any global partnership is liquidity in the flow of capital and profits. India has considerably eased foreign capital investment and repatriation, and supplemented policy moves with efficient domestic equity and debt capital markets. Investors today realize that they can efficiently re-allocate capital into India's own capital markets for redeployment later, and repatriate billions of dollars of profit efficiently, back to shareholders in USA, Europe or elsewhere.
Four: India is a stable and stubborn democracy. Global partners would rather invest in an economy where policy issues do not change overnight on ad hoc basis. Corporations have a heads up on any bills introduced in Parliament and time to react to change.
Five: India has a stable currency backed by a real economy, an accounting system that is transparent, and a stable government and private banking system. India's Rupee is considerably protected from the risks of runaway inflation because it's backed by real assets, has a diversified GDP that spans agriculture, industry, services and government spending. Reserve bank of India is quite effective in setting fiscal and monetary policy, interest rates, based on monthly analysis of all relevant economic parameters.
Six, global partnerships have made India a better country and improving the quality of life for the average Indian. Indians today ride scooters that give them more miles per gallon while also reducing harmful emissions. India's skies have clearly transitioned from a dull grey to a light blue with the likes of Honda and Toyota growing their footprint in the country. As much as global corporations benefit from partnering with India, India is an equal recipient.
The Road ahead?
Jeff Imelt, CEO of GE draws attention to what he calls “reverse innovation”.
Earlier, innovations happened in the West and products were at the most assembled this part of the world. Now India is home to Innovative Product design not only in IT segment for Microsoft, Oracle and Cisco. But also in the high tech Engineering and Industrial segment for GE. I go a step further,Tata Motors NANO car conceptualized, designed and manufactured in India is threatening to change the global landscape of the automotive industry. So its not just the service sector, but now manufacturing that is joining mainstream global markets. I am pretty sure soon we will soon see this happen in the Agricultural Industry.
Partnerships have to be built on shared commitment, and shared vision. We need strong mutual commitment from other countries and we need a mutual vision which is perfectly aligned to mutual interests. This will require global dialog of partnerships at conferences like these, but also, policy level meetings, bringing together not only government officials and bureaucrats, but also inviting business leaders into the mix.
Being here in Thailand, I feel that South East Asia has a particular cross-border advantage as we represent dozen of diverse countries from Thailand, to Malaysia to Singapore, to India to Indonesia. As a collective region, as we learn from the cooperation seen in "EURO" Zone, we can collectively create far greater bargaining power in the global agendas of the G-8 or the G-20. Recent zero Import duty free trade between ASEAN countries will allow for closer collaborations and product efficiency and cost optimization for the highly competitive global market.
The time for such partnerships are now, and I am pleased to echo my commitment to fostering such global collaborations.