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Invest India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Unicorn

Invest India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Unicorn

Invest India’s strategy is to woo the foreign investor aggressively, showcase the country as the preferred investment destination, and then ensure the investor is able to set up shop by helping secure all approvals.

The story of Invest India is the story of emerging India's economic prowess The story of Invest India is the story of emerging India's economic prowess

Deepak Bagla, the Managing Director and CEO of Invest India, the government’s investment promotion agency (IPA), is a busy man these days. Apart from chairing the global body of IPAs—the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies, or WAIPA—Invest India is also helping other countries by giving them advice on how to attract foreign investment. Not without reason. Consider the numbers: in just over six years since it was empowered and restructured (it was set up in 2009), Invest India has helped create 450,000 jobs, supported 81,000-plus start-ups, solved 300,000-plus queries from 174 countries, and facilitated 1,323 investment projects. And, going by the energy of Bagla and his young team (which has an average age of 29), this could just be the beginning. India received a record $85 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in FY22 despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the aim is to continue growing this at a rapid pace.

Invest India’s strategy is to woo the foreign investor aggressively, showcase the country as the preferred investment destination, and then ensure the investor is able to set up shop by helping secure all approvals and monitoring the progress every step of the way. In the process, it liaises with state governments and central departments and, as Bagla himself says, “joins the dots”. No surprise, then, that industrialist Anand Mahindra calls Invest India a “social unicorn” which, instead of a billion-dollar valuation, impacts over a billion people. This is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of making India the most preferred investment destination in the world. In the course of multiple conversations for the cover story in this issue, Bagla quotes Prime Minister Modi who has said he wants to turn the red tape into a red carpet. “This is the red carpet,” Bagla tells us. Invest India’s restructured shareholding, where industry chambers like Ficci, Nasscom and CII hold 17 per cent each, and where 23 states also hold a combined 11.5 per cent, is a good example of public-private partnership in the interest of facilitating investments. The agency also helms the government’s Startup India initiative, with India’s start-up ecosystem now the third largest in the world. As India marches on towards the next 25 years, Invest India is set to play an even more vital role in the coming days.

This issue also gets you the latest instalment of the Business Today-C Fore Business Confidence Index (BCI), our quarterly update of the mood in the corner rooms of India’s corporations. Despite serious economic headwinds in the form of global and domestic inflation, a falling rupee and a recessionary trend in some of the leading economies, business confidence grew to 52.5 in July-September 2022 (on a scale of 100), up from 51.2 in the previous quarter, the level it had fallen to after recording a 28-quarter high of 55.2 in January-March 2022. If the latest reading is anything to go by, Indian businesses seem to have taken economic uncertainty in their stride.