This May has turned out to be our most busy period yet, over the last three years. This is not necessarily because we have so many activities, but because it is the month of India Unlimited which this year, between, 2-3 May, had what I can only categorise as its best conference yet, with great speakers and panellists.
A CII delegation came from India, small but senior and perfectly effective for us, somewhat, delegation-volume-based -allergic Swedes. SIBC led the Roundtables for Defence/Security and Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor / Telangana, which turned out a good discussion. What is important to realise when you form an opinion, is that most of the information we read comes from general media, that has a tendency to write about “news” which, more than often not, is based on negatives, whether it’s in India or in Sweden. The best way to get true information is through a dialogue, a roundtable or simply by contacting SIBC and we will figure out where you will get the information you need, if we don’t have it.
Discussions during the last few weeks seem to circle around if the Modi government is doing all it can, and can it be doing more? Are expectations still running feverishly high?
In 2005, when I came on-board SIBC, I remember that we didn’t even dare to wish for all that is happening in India just these last 2 years. Many who are reading this didn’t even think of India as a possible market back then, it was only ‘China China China’. Our battle to make companies realise that India is truly a massive market to be part of, is no longer a battle. The Business Climate Survey, by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce and Team Sweden India, proves that the temperature on the ground is increasing, things are happening; government is working, at least at the top level. State competition has commenced and the situation is getting much better in many states, as the state “ease-of-doing-business” index shows.
But lots of talk will be showered with attention, and thus increasing hopes and expectations, Modi knows this I’m sure. India needs and is being provided one thing, a very clear vision. Based on the four pillars – Make in India, Digital India, Clean India and –Skill India, Modi has managed to mobilise the Indian industry to come together and focus on India, foreign firms to increase their investments in knowledge, and manufacturing capacity. This vision is changing the extremely lousy view the world had of India. Today, India is invited to the table, is being asked to participate and to play an increasingly important strategic geo-political role. Would this have happened 10 years ago? No way. There is no retreat this time, there is no surrender, and India has chosen a path of progress, a path of change from the old ways to a new better way. This is all very good. But it will all come down to the one single big reform, having such a profound impact on the economy that can only be called what it is, a game changing reform – the Goods and Service Tax, enabling the Indian economy to finally become one single market. Reports are popping up that it might actually go through in the summer session. I know we have heard that before, so what makes this time different? Well it could be as simple as how many show up to vote, with five states going to the polls before the summer. Morgan Stanley India, in a recent report, seems to think that could make this happen. Lets hope they are right.