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Corporate India’s Vision for India for the Next 25 Years

Corporate India’s Vision for India for the Next 25 Years

On the occasion of 75 years of India's Independence, some growth tips from industry doyens for the road to 100 years

The best voices across professional spheres attempt to unravel what India@100 might look like. The best voices across professional spheres attempt to unravel what India@100 might look like.

Very few countries globally are as fascinatingly poised as India is when it comes to being at the intersection of a growth story. With this being the 75th year since we gained our Independence, the next step is 2047. The best voices across professional spheres attempt to unravel what India@100 might look like. That’s not the easiest of tasks when one is in the middle of a serious economic challenge globally, and one is still to find out what the impact on India will be. It makes for a heady concoction, and there is a good chance that our ability to be greatly resilient will be questioned several times. However, big opportunities don’t come by often, and this is one of those times. In the following pages, read about what the captains of India Inc. perceive will be the country’s growth path.


Digital, the New Driver

The building blocks of achieving sustained high growth are very clear. There has to be a mindset to drive infrastructure at a pace and, at the same time, get your equation in terms of water and agriculture right. You should have an industrial sector that should be able to build on its own in terms of positive cash flows and margins. You need a financial system that can support all these things. That, too, happens when you have clean balance sheets.

In our case, banks’ balance sheets are clean and corporate India is also de-leveraged. The capital market, especially the equity market, has come of age. There is also a new driver—the digital revolution. In a digital world, everything becomes more efficient, more competitive and more productive.

All these together—the unfinished agenda in infrastructure, unfinished agenda on water, growth agenda on industry and manufacturing, and completely new opportunities from digital—will propel us down this runaway.


A Global Growth Engine

India will realise its true potential in the next 25 years. It stands apart from its emerging market peers as it is not a one-trick pony. Further, a stable government committed to sustainable policy measures to facilitate strong growth, create jobs and improve living standards augurs well for the economy. India is a consumption-based economy with strong macroeconomic fundamentals. Its growth drivers are self-sustaining owing to favourable demographics, demand, rising aspirations, growing middle class, rapid urbanisation and entrepreneurship. There is huge under-penetration in financial services, which implies a tremendous potential for growth. Continued focus on financial sector reforms, technological initiatives, employment creation and infrastructure development will make India one of the engines of global growth.


Focus on Per Capita Income

India@75 may be ranked fifth in the world in total GDP but is 134th in per capita GDP. My hope for the next 25 years is that we make raising our per capita income our primary policy goal by raising the productivity of five places of which only two are geographic: our states (Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh have the same GDP but a 4x difference in population); our cities (Bengaluru and Patna may have a 50x difference in per capita GDP); our sectors (software is only 0.8 per cent of the labour force but produces 8 per cent of the GDP); our firms (there is a 24x productivity difference between our biggest and smallest manufacturing firms); and our skills (two children of the same age with the same paper qualifications now have a 4x difference in salary based on their soft, functional and industry skills). My vision of India@100 is a new tryst with destiny where our 3Es of employment, employability and education create an infrastructure of opportunity that ensure that the two most important decisions an Indian child does not make today—pin code and parents—become irrelevant to their prospects, prosperity and potential.


Redefining the Contours of Growth

India@100 must attempt to redefine the traditional contours of development. Infrastructure must be sustainable. Skill development must be broad-based, and requirement-driven, technology and IT-enabled services must be human-intensive, automation should eliminate hazards and aid precision, mobility must be non-polluting, and growth must be even. I am confident that we will be able to create sustainable and mass affordable housing, water, and waste management infrastructure. One way to achieve such sustainability would be to utilise hydrogen in hard-to-abate sectors. E-commerce platforms as we know today might be reinvented. Transportation will be end-to-end multi-modal. We have bypassed the normal route of financial inclusion using cellphones and products such as UPI. This must be aided by mega-scale renewable power and clean fuels including nuclear energy. In tangible terms, we should attempt to be at least 30 per cent of global manufacturing and contribute a good 15 per cent of the world’s GDP.


India to Lead the World

India will be a $12-trillion economy and a healthy middle-income country [by 2047]. The country will use its young demographic, engineering and IT prowess to ‘make in India for the world’. It will be a pioneer in the use and advent of green energy—from renewables to green hydrogen. Equally important will be ensuring universal healthcare, education and food for all. While India is on the cusp of a fascinating development story, we must work towards reducing the unacceptably high levels of inequality prevalent today. On the technology front, nothing can come in the way of India taking a dominant position on the global stage. I have no doubt we will be at the forefront of high-quality infrastructure.


A Fount for Hundreds of Unicorns

We will look back at the current period as one when the foundations for a New India were laid down. A time when India’s long-promised potential is materialising through a combination of progressive and enabling government programmes, and development of physical and virtual infrastructure that organisations—young and established—are harnessing to the hilt. India’s welfare schemes are also getting more efficient, targeted and effective. The country’s start-ups are solving problems through tech and by creating jobs—leading to spending increasing—and by bringing commerce to the smaller towns of India. Today, the small town is the new big town for entrepreneurship. By 2047, I see India as having eliminated that distinction: every corner [of the country] will be a fount for hundreds of unicorns. India’s golden decade of growth would have established us among the top three economies, and hopefully among the top two nations when measured on soft power. I do clearly envision the coming 25 years to be truly the commonly envisaged ‘Amrit Kaal’.


Fintech to Drive MSME Growth

India is the fastest-growing fintech market in the world with 87 per cent adoption of fintech compared to the global average of 64 per cent. As per data available, in 2020, India processed 25 billion real-time transactions compared to 15 billion in China and only 1.2 billion in the US. The government’s successful push of JAM (Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and mobile number) accelerated financial inclusion of the masses. UPI has already revolutionised payments. The next stage of innovation is set with OCEN (Open Credit Enablement Network) and AA (Account Aggregator), which are the engines for propelling digital delivery of credit to hitherto credit-deprived MSMEs. To create millions of jobs and bring exponential economic growth, credit and banking services to the unbanked and under-banked small entrepreneurs will happen through the innovative neo-banking platforms.


Banking Will be Transformed

Banking is going through a transformative phase in which contextualisation, personalisation and democratisation will be the key drivers. Contextualisation means that banking services will increasingly be embedded in the contextual journeys of customers. For example, rather than going to a bank for mortgage, customers will get instant funding while selecting their dream home on a real estate search site! Personalisation means that power will shift from vanilla product manufacturers to platforms that create exceptional experiences, and customers will be in control of what they want to consume, when and how. For instance, a credit card was a vanilla product, and now BNPL options are providing on-demand credit, while multiple fintechs are offering cards configurable by individual customers to suit their individual needs. Democratisation of data and credit through India Stack and OCEN will allow every Indian with basic identity to have access to credit. For example, a small company offering tax uploading facilities could offer on-demand credit using OCEN.


India to be Among the World’s Top Three Economies

With a rich history going back centuries, India has always charted its own path. Owing to its immense potential, expansive resources and strong talent pool, the country is today on the path of transformation as a leading global player across the fields of business, infrastructure development, innovation and socio-economic growth.

As we proudly celebrate 75 years of Independence, I believe there lies a tremendous opportunity for India to become one of the world’s top three economies. This will be further boosted by India’s travel and hospitality sector, which will continue to grow in the coming years, buoyed by the country’s diverse offerings and a burgeoning economy.

If developed strategically, led by global standards and a focus on sustainability, the sector will play an even more pivotal role in contributing towards economy and job creation, as India continues its journey to become a nation to reckon with on the global stage.


Balanced Growth Path

In 30 years, at the current long-term, currency-adjusted nominal growth rate of 5 per cent, India’s GDP would rise to $15 trillion; at a reform-led 8 per cent rate, it would double to $30 trillion. In this journey, digital and green are key as India aims to simultaneously industrialise and de-carbonise. Standard Chartered estimates India will need additional resources of $12.4 trillion to meet its long-term net-zero goals. A catalyst for this balanced growth is the PLI (production-linked incentive) where 55 per cent of capex is expected to be green. PLI combined with landmark trade agreements (FTAs) will integrate India into global supply chains, propelling it towards the government’s target of $1 trillion exports by 2030 and manufacturing share in GDP of close to a third by 2047.


Focus on Clean Energy

The third-largest economy in the globe, the factory to the world and a leading name in alternative medicines harnessing the power of Ayurveda and yoga. This, for me, summarises India@100. India would be amongst the most prosperous nations in the world with a high per capita income and probably the youngest demography. And the one area where I feel India will take the lead is clean and green energy. In line with the government’s focus on safeguarding the environment and promoting a greener India, we have engaged electric vehicles in our operations, thereby reducing emissions and protecting the environment. I am confident that this move will also help us propagate the use of electric vehicles even in the hinterland, helping India achieve its green energy mission faster.


Skilling the Need of the Hour

India is lucky enough to have the youngest population among the developing countries—meaning we have a substantial and stable population of working-age adults. But this also poses a challenge because a big chunk of this population has a massive skill gap, as can be seen in the unemployment statistics. The other important thing is we [need to] do whatever it takes to stop the brain drain and ensure start-ups register at home and contribute to our tax base. The country is also one of the very few bright spots in an otherwise gloomy global economy. If we are to realise our economic potential, we need to do whatever it takes to upskill our youth to make them ready to face what promises to be an age of disruption. We also must not forget that growth has to be equitable, while taking great care to ensure that we consider the environmental and ecological costs of growth. All said and done, I’m long on India.


A Global Production Hub

India’s story as a fast-growing economy will continue and it is possible to sustain that at 6-7 per cent for the next 25 years, even on a larger base. That means the GDP can easily increase by 4x from where we are today. Critically, the growth rate of our population will also start to decrease. These two factors together become very important since that translates to a better quality of life and a wide choice available to the consumer. That scenario when we have a buyers’ market is an indication of a developed economy. The basic foundation for all this will be laid over the next 5-10 years to make sure the world comes to India to deploy its funds and not anywhere else. I see a clear opportunity for us to become a global manufacturing hub and that will be the big transformation. Nothing can be more significant than that.


Energy Security the Key

India is charting a new economic growth road map to emerge as a truly self-reliant energy secure nation by 2047. The pace at which economic development is happening will enable India to become a global economic and technology powerhouse in the next 25 years. As the world’s fastest growing economy, it is adopting an aggressive carbon-reduction approach. Energy security will be a giant step for India in becoming a global superpower. The energy demand of the country is growing at a fast pace and renewables will play a major role in meeting this demand. The country has taken multiple initiatives and is accelerating the adoption of clean energy technologies to trigger a new wave of sustainable growth. Technology will play a key role in driving the entire energy transformation. My vision for India in 2047 is of a secure, efficient and clean energy nation, connected with the rest of the world through an interconnected grid in the spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’.


The Future is Green

When India reaches 100, the transformation to green will have been reached. By then, all hydrocarbon-powered vehicles will be gone. Cars will be fuelled by batteries charged with renewable energy, biofuels from agricultural crops, and hydrogen from water. New jobs will be based on tech, universities will have interdisciplinary degrees, and sustainability will provide the top jobs. CESL believes that with the level of ambitious and continued steer the government is driving, India will be ahead of the world in achieving its climate commitments.


Dare to Dream

India@100 will set an example of being a clean and united country. An economic powerhouse where there is enough for everyone’s need but not greed. Quality education and healthcare will be available to each citizen. Smart cities will attract the best talent by providing them with a sustainable environment and facilities that are integrated. India will demonstrate that bureaucracy, industry and civil society can work together to provide equal opportunity for each citizen. I dream of an India which plays a leading role in smart manufacturing, software and technology.


Macro Discipline to Power Progress

I envisage india@100 as a more confident India. An India where capital account convertibility should have happened along with internationalisation of the rupee, bond index inclusion, a renewable energy proponent on the fast track to net-zero emissions, home to some of the leading unicorns in the world, with agritech driving an integrated agricultural landscape and India becoming the world’s food bowl. All this is contingent on macro indicators. The government needs to monitor debt-to-GDP, fiscal deficit, tax regulation, etc. Additionally, India’s demography hinges on economic policy reforms to improve demand, remove supply constraints, and pump in huge investments in infrastructure.


Putting People First

My vision for India@100 is one where everyone gets equal opportunity to do his/her economic activity. Put people first to create an entrepreneurship culture that helps communities find economic solutions and create wealth. By empowering the common man, with a focus on financial inclusion, we can democratise access to finance. Women form a disproportionately large share of India’s unbanked and underserved, and that needs immediate attention. Without fully including women, we will be unable to solve the financial inclusion puzzle, end extreme poverty, and promote shared prosperity in India. Financial inclusion, however, is not only a goal but also a means to an end as an enabler, multiplier and accelerator of economic growth. My vision for India’s future is not one of despair but of hope.