For many, India is a scary place. The sheer thought of undertaking any type of business with India would be worrying because of the challenges, uncertainties and the very real possibility that you might end up with a raw deal of high-cost, low-quality output.
In fact, Mark Thirwell, Chief Economist of Austrade, while speaking in Mumbai, said that if Australian companies were asked to list the new and exciting markets to do business in, India would invariably feature among the top five. He also remarked that Australian companies would rank India among the top five countries that were the most business-unfriendly! It’s unsurprising then that the gap between expectation and outcome is what would worry foreign investors.
The fact that India is a chaotic and complicated democracy with a population of 1.2 billion people makes it all the more overwhelming! But when you put alongside the statistic that two-thirds of the population is under 35 years of age and that the middle class is around 330 million, a new perspective comes to light. Add to that, estimates that place India as the fastest growing economy in the world and you see before you, the beginnings of lucrative market opportunities.
This was highlighted by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley when he visited Australia last week. Delivering his first public talk at the Sydney campus of the SP Jain School of Global Management, he not only praised the initiatives of his present government but also indicated that their success was dependent on substantial foreign capital investment. Investors in turn, were promised transparency in tax laws and in the ease of doing business – one of the many initiatives of PM Modi’s Make in India (MII) campaign. Other initiatives such as Start-ups and Smart Cities to Skilling, Education and a Digital revolution also offer immense growth opportunities for foreign investment.
At the MII conference in Sydney, organized by the Indian government, the Minister said that MII offered a platform to synergise Australia’s expertise in the skills and services sector with Australian capital to help India emerge as a world class manufacturing and business hub and thereby enhance global business efficiency.
The MII conference served as a reminder that India-Australia relations can make a transformative leap only if both countries engage more meaningfully and substantively. Australia is one of the strongest economies in the world and India has emerged as the fastest growing, with a market that occupies one sixth of the global population. For Australia, there are far too many opportunities to ignore. So if investors are looking for a good time to Make in India, now would be it.
By Diya Dasgupta