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‘India’s fortunes critical to the world; its rise welcomed by the world’: Kumar Mangalam Birla

‘India’s fortunes critical to the world; its rise welcomed by the world’: Kumar Mangalam Birla

Kumar Mangalam Birla further said that the new geopolitical normal has changed everything from supply chains to fortunes of nations.

Kumar Mangalam Birla looks at last year and the year ahead Kumar Mangalam Birla looks at last year and the year ahead

Chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, Kumar Mangalam Birla, in a note on the year gone by and the year ahead, said that some of his beliefs such as “sanity over vanity in valuations”, role of large corporations as engines for growth and societal good, and WFO over WFH have stayed true. But some beliefs like his conviction about the “roaring 2020s” needs more conviction, he said. 

He said that three years ago the pandemic felt apocalyptic but the collective bounce-back was equally remarkable. He further said that the new geopolitical normal has changed everything from supply chains to fortunes of nations. 

KM Birla listed five broad trends that he thinks would have a multi-year impact:

India’s rise: He said that India is a country that combines a lot of factors, from economic might and a large working population to robust democracy and entrepreneurial energy. “India’s economic fortunes are critical for the world,” he said, but more importantly, he added, India’s rise is being welcomed by the world. He said that the next two and half decades represent an Amrit Kaal. 

Birla said that there is a decadal reshaping of supply chains underway and India is emerging as the clear choice. “As India further opens up to trade and investment, forms new alliances and reaffirms old ones in the changing world order, it will have a unique place in the global economy. It is now up to us, its people, its companies, and its leaders to harness these opportunities in India’s favour,” he said. 

Clean energy: KM Birla said that climate and sustainability have rightfully been called out as the defining challenges of the 21st century. Broader efforts towards clean energy are truly underway, he added. “Governments and large corporations globally finally see a confluence between what is virtuous and financially prudent. And this convergence will drive a multi-decade transition,” said the industrialist. 

He also lauded businesses whole-heartedly committing towards cleaner energy. “The pendulum of climate change will swing globally when we can find technology led solutions to marry the material aspirations of current generations with responsibility towards the lives of future generations. And nowhere is that truer than in rapidly emerging countries like India,” he said. 

Business building: The availability of capital, together with talent brimming with ideas, means that there is an explosion of new business building. He said that there is much to be learnt from the raw energy and hustle of new ventures in the ecosystem. “At the same time, it’s also increasingly clear that there is a thin line between hustle and hubris,” he said while suggesting how to maintain the balance. KM Birla said that one must build great teams and not be afraid to bring in new talent. Businesses must create a culture of values where actions matter more than slogans, he said. 

“Big bets need to be orchestrated based on your own fundamental strengths - better unit economics, massive scale, network advantages,  speed etc. If you do not continuously reshape the terms of the industry  based on these big bets, someone else definitely will be playing to theirs,” he said, further adding that metrics matter even in the absence of perfect analogues. 

Longevity: Birla said that changes in technology and evolving consumer needs are creating shorter business cycles. He reiterated the importance of reinventing, while harnessing the trust and stability that comes from longevity. 

Citing Tom Cruise’s 1986 blockbuster movie, Top Gun and its $1-billion grossing blockbuster sequel Top Gun Maverick (2022), Birla said that the franchise was carried not only by the shoulders of nostalgic Gen Xers of Cruise’s youth but also by the “enthusiastic embrace” of Gen Z.

“Across the corporate landscape, companies will be asked pressing questions regarding their own futures. What is the unique formula that harnesses historic moats formed by brand power, distribution might, or technology prowess, with a forward-looking product pipeline, consumer relevance and an agile, young workforce? And what are the bets that see through the short-term fads and translate into sustainable advantage? I do not have the answers to all these questions but take heart in some of the unique experiments that we have underway to find solutions,” he said. 

Purpose: Birla said that the Aditya Birla Group’s purpose statement was finally formally put to words in 2022. “At its heart is the aspiration to enrich lives by building dynamic and responsible businesses and institutions that inspire trust. In a world of increasing opportunity, and also accelerating uncertainty, our purpose statement is meant to act as a talisman and remain at the core of our business decisions,” he said. 

“As we grow, we expand our capacity to receive. We enhance our absorption of talent, technology, and capital. This, in turn, enables us to increase our ability to give back, create impact, and enrich lives. This virtuous cycle is at the heart of being a successful purpose-driven organisation,” said Birla. 

He said that stories from the past are portends for the future and point to the limitless possibilities ahead of us. 

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Published on: Jan 24, 2023, 3:27 PM IST
Posted by: anwesha madhukalya, Jan 24, 2023, 3:22 PM IST