As I prepare to once again attend the World Economic Forum at Davos, I wear the Indian mantle with greater pride than ever before. If we consider the question ‘is there a cure for the world’s economic malaise’, it is evident that every country must work hard to find its own answer, as India surely has.
Even among the original four BRICs, all but India have started to run low on growth gasoline amid the worldwide slump in commodity prices and lethargic gains in the West. As our Central Bank Head Raghuram Rajan states – while fellow BRICs have deep problems, India appears to be ‘an island of relative calm in an ocean of turmoil’. There is a sense of heightened optimism in India as it pulls away from the Wolf Pack to become the world’s fastest-growing economy.
India’s growth accelerated to 7.4% in the Q2 of 2015-16, riding high on manufacturing and investment pickup.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) grew by 27 per cent in 2014-15 to USD 30.93 billion.
From April-September 2015, FDI in India increased by 13% and reached USD 16.63 billion over the USD 14.69 billion in the same period last year.
Deftly catching the upswing, the Indian government relaxed FDI norms in 15 sectors including defence, real estate, retail and civil aviation. In real estate, investments in the first half of 2015 almost equalled the entire investments in 2014 – and far exceeded those of 2013. On the transparency front, India is likely to enact the Real Estate Regulation Bill soon, and it also finally introduced Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) last year.
Yes, sir – India is definitely going places. So is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been tirelessly improving our diplomatic and trade relations with a slew of foreign jaunts that appear to be paying off. They have certainly helped in bringing USD 19.78 billion of FDI through in 2014-15.
The theme for this year’s World Economic Forum – ‘Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ – is quite pertinent, and I fully agree with Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of WEF, when he says that as a planet we need a comprehensive and collaborated understanding of how technology is changing our lives and the lives of future generations.
India is drawing global kudos for the success of home-grown efforts that are essentially global in nature – unique government initiatives such as the ‘Skill India’ program will empower our all-important ‘Demographic Dividend’ and the ‘Digital India’ program will bring the power of the internet to our masses, even as ‘Make In India’ is boosting domestic manufacturing.
That said, there are still challenges galore. As we speak of the massive migration numbers to Europe, there is an even bigger one happening in India as millions move from rural to urban areas. This calls for innovation in making our existing cities smarter and more resilient. It also requires the creation of several new urban growth centres. Add to that the escalating demand for renewable energy, the need to use cleaner technologies, foster innovation for sustainable development and infrastructure creation – and the never-ending challenge to bring millions out of poverty. How India tackles these challenges will bring learnings for other countries, as well.
With an increasing need to shape a ‘collective future’, the world has a unique opportunity to realise the benefits of helping India in its growth program, and not just view it as an interesting case study. This will not only open up huge markets for participating countries, but also ensure a collaborative and sustainable development for the larger good of protecting our planet and countering climate change.
The ancient Sanskrit phrase ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, quoted by Modi during his world tours, means ‘the world is one family’. More than ever before, India is poised to integrate into the Global Family, with more and more countries participating in its growth story. This thought will surely provide me with a warm glow to counter the icy chill that awaits at Davos-Klosters.