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Hard Sell

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the ‘India Ideas Summit’ hosted by the US-India Business Council (via video-conferencing) was another step forward in reshaping relations between the two countries. India and the US are in many ways ‘natural allies’, which for ideological reasons were unable to build on this affinity. With the jettisoning of the obsession with socialism in India, and the realisation in the US that merely transactional relationships do not last – such as those with China and Pakistan – some substantial developments are taking place which will bring the two countries together for the benefit of both. An essential part of this, as the PM pointed out, is investing in India at this very crucial time.

The PM’s salesmanship was backed up with solid data and a comprehensive vision of the many sectors open for investment by those looking for 21st century opportunities. Already, a number of Indian-origin CEOs have decided to invest heavily after seeing the potential for growth. But it is not just a question of patriotic sentiment – it also makes very good business sense. Unlike most other countries, including China, the growth story is only just beginning in India involving hitherto unexploited areas, both geographically and industry-wise. India’s people, as the PM pointed out, are consumers of the future in unprecedentedly large numbers. While corporations might be happy with the ‘ease of doing business’ and ‘quick returns’ from small manufacturing bases in some countries being touted presently, it is India that offers also an enormous domestic market that will continue into the centuries to come.

If the global economy is to be restructured along more equitable lines, unlike the exploitative manner it has turned out to be with China as the role model, India’s enormously diverse democratic system should be much in demand. Any CEO who ignores these facts would be doing her or his company a huge disservice. It is also fortunate that, at the present time, India has a Prime Minister who is fully cognisant of the requirements – that may not be the case ten years down the line. This is also why China is so desperately trying at the present to diminish India’s standing – it is fully aware of its vulnerabilities. Those obsessing over the ‘status quo ante’ at the LAC should be aware that the major battle is being fought elsewhere. If China loses its economic advantage because investors and governments begin to look elsewhere, its carefully stacked pack of cards will collapse in no time at all. The process is underway; it needs to be accelerated further.