In the last few months I have had an opportunity to meet with people of three different nationalities for business discussions – Americans, Chinese and Singaporeans. I now recognise a common theme running across my conversations in these three interactions although it was not so obvious initially. But when this topic reared its head for the third time during my meeting with a business associate in Singapore, I could ignore it no more. And that was the renewed interest in doing business in India.
While India has been a story with potential for many years now- the reality has been different. To cut a long story short, it continues to remain a story with potential to a large extent. We can attribute various reasons for lack of interest from other nations in doing business in India – chief being there was not enough tangible action which warranted their presence or investments in India.
However, with the change of government at the center and Prime Minister Modi being vocal about his “Make in India” and “Smart Cities” programs , many are sitting up and taking note, foreign nations included. So, let me get back to my moment of truth.
In each of these meetings, I was told that there had always been an interest in India but the companies were in “wait & watch” mode as they felt the time was not yet right. However, with the new government, these companies sense change is in the air and want to swing into action. It does not necessarily mean that these companies are going to start manufacturing in India. It means that the have found sufficient potential for them to setup their presence and be a part of the action. They also fully realise that much needed overhauls to the infrastructure is still pending but at the same time, they see it is an opportune moment to enter the scene. We are likely to see more foreign companies from different industries open an office in India, establish presence and slowly expand – both for production as well as for the market purposes.
We have also seen another kind of action being taken. We started working with an European technology major six months back to help establish themselves as an expert in the Make in India and Smart Cities space with the Indian government. The client has been present in India for a while now and wanted to fully utilise this opportunity thrown open by the government. They have used thought leadership as a way to present their capabilities to the relevant ministries in the government and have received an open and positive hearing.
From all this I felt hopeful that we have perhaps woken up from our deep slumber and moved into action mode. I fully realize that implementation of these program is a long run ahead surfeit with millions of obstacles. But the first step has been taken and hopefully we will soon get into a stage where there is no turning back.