At the moment the jury is still out on whether the Indian economy has moved back to a high growth path or not. According to government statistics, India's economic growth accelerated to 7.3 per cent in the last fiscal. The government says that this is conclusive proof that acche din are finally here. On the other hand, many respected economists - even the Reserve Bank of India - have wondered why GDP growth is at odds with other parameters of the economy like credit growth. The issue is that there has been a revision in the way the government measures GDP now, and quite a few commentators feel that the current methodology overstates growth, while there is not enough evidence that things have changed on the ground.
The RBI, for example, pointed out that despite the high GDP figures, credit growth has been painfully slow. And deposit growth has also been slow. Meanwhile, corporate results for the March quarter were nothing to cheer about, while exports have been dropping for some time.
There is also some evidence that things are definitely getting better - if they haven't got better already. Inflation is down, more FDI is flowing into the country, and there is a record amount of mergers and acquisitions taking place. Venture capital is flowing steadily into start-ups, and indirect tax collections have also improved, as have car sales - a key indicator of economic sentiment. So, if acche din are not here yet, there seem enough signs that things will improve in the next couple of years - assuming that the Greek situation and other such global crises do not affect the Indian economy.
On the other hand, there is no doubt in anyone's mind - economists or laypersons - that the last few years were among the worst for the Indian economy in well over a decade. Even the best-managed companies in the country faced many challenges navigating the business and economic environment of the last few years.
Of course, a company's true character lies in not how well it manages growth and profits during an economic boom, but on how it steers through in bad times. As that old cliché goes, a rising tide raises all boats. And as a pithy quote attributed to Warren Buffett puts it: It is only when the tide goes out that you know who has been swimming naked.
Our special issue on the fastest-growing emerging companies in India is an effort to identify the mid-sized companies that were not swimming naked when the economic tide went out. The list of companies is quite eclectic and covers a wide-range of businesses. There are some old companies that were growing slowly in the past decade, but have shown a renewed dynamism in the past three or four years. There are also companies that are relatively new, but have set a scorching pace of growth.
This issue has been a true Team BT effort, with the research unit of Niti Kiran and Jyotindra Dubey burning the candle at both ends to crunch the numbers, while correspondents from all our bureaus reported on the companies that came out on top. Managing Editor Rajeev Dubey and Deputy Editor Alokesh Bhattacharyya anchored the issue.