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How to build 30 of the Fortune 100 companies out of India

August 6, 2008

The statistics is disheartening. Of the Fortune 500 companies, just seven are Indian. There isn’t a single Indian company in the top 100. The highest ranked Indian company is a state-owned enterprise, IndianOil Corporation, which comes in at the 116th position.

The highest ranked Indian private entity is Reliance Industries at #206. In comparison, the number of American companies in the top 500 is 153; even China boasts of 29 home-grown entities that made the final cut last year. So, the idea of creating 30 Fortune 100 companies by 2022 is daunting if not out right fantastic.

But industry leaders and watchers believe it’s possible and probable, provided India Inc. does a few things right. “The language for the 21st century is global and India Inc.’s new leaders will have to master its vocabulary,” Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani told BT earlier this year. “Global ambition needs to be an essential ingredient in a globalised market place,” Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharti Group, told BT recently.

But before Indian companies become big globally, they must become big at home. “It’s a question of getting scale at home and then aiming to replicate that scale globally,” says Russell Parera, CEO, KPMG India. “For that we need to increase the depth of talent and management bandwidth in the country,” he adds.

Parera believes that India needs what he calls soft infrastructure, and education is the key to that. So, which are the sectors that could produce India’s global giants? “The financial services sector has the potential to create such companies. Some of the PSUs with deep pockets also are capable of making it,” contends Parera. Dinesh Thakkar, Chairman and Managing Director, Angel Broking, believes that any industry that harnesses India’s human resources is capable of producing giants. “R&D-based industries such as pharma and biotech can create such companies.”

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