You can’t afford to wait….
…was probably the main key message of the hugely successful SIBC DIALOGUE, which took place on May 17th in Stockholm. Extra masala (spices) was added to an already star studded, panel with SIBC’s high profile advisors, when Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (Minister of IT and Communications) and Mr Marcus Wallenberg held opening remarks.
For the first time SIBC undertook the endeavour to have an open debate on the challenges Swedish companies face, but at the same time deliver some key messages and advice from the panel. The dialogue was moderated by yours truly, and I can also testify to the sheer joy of having such a great and engaged advisory board.
The take-aways from the SIBC Dialogue 2016, can be summarised in a couple of things; firstly, you cannot wait with your India investments or entry, whether or not reforms are taking time, bureaucracy is too much, development is not fast enough, the GDP is not what is should be etc. Companies, foreign and domestic, are doing great business, increasing their market shares and growing in spite of the challenges. The best way is to adapt, be agile and think big via India (manufacturing for exports). Secondly, and this cannot be emphasised enough, top management and decision makers at HQ needs to be fully engaged as well as informed. The lesser top management is engaged, the more side-lined India will be for your business.
There is a high cost of an increasing “middle class” which requires traffic solutions all over India now.
Some of my own eye witness comments, having spent some time in India in June caring for my own business, and meeting and talking to people is that India is growing, and in some sense, faster than can be managed. The number of new cars put on the street in Delhi alone is over 1000 per day (about 375 000 per year)!! Everyone knows construction of roads takes time, and combine that with the lack of applying the driving rules, traffic becomes horrific. Traffic solutions must take centre stage. Second and third tier cities, where lots of the growth is happening, do not get the “Modi attention”, even if they are in BJP led states. Despite the fanfare of the current government’s ambition, cities are still largely left to their own devices. Hopefully state competition of best practice and smart-cities will bear fruit.
Good things are happening on the federal level, though, with an all India impact. Digital India is the best example. This has led to citizens being able to file taxes online, applying for passports online (albeit a low percentage of the population) and getting public information online. This is happening fast and is very well received by the public. I travelled to Ahmedabad the other day and witnessed the absolutely beautiful channel with emerald green clear water and beautiful park promenades on each side. It looked like Singapore just by the channel. This is where Modi showed India that clear water channels can be achieved. Seeing-is-believing, which was also one of the main messages from the SIBC dialogue. Visit often. See. Believe. And get going.