Business Standard

BS Manthan: From trade & startups to China+1, here's what happened on Day 2

At the Business Standard's annual event Manthan, Union Minister Piyush Goyal and industry leaders spoke on various steps India needs to take to transform into 'Viksit Bharat' by 2047

Piyush Goyal, BS Manthan

BS Manthan: Piyush Goyal in a fireside chat with AK Bhattacharya

Abhijeet Kumar New Delhi
On Day 2 of the Business Standard annual summit, Manthan, Union Ministers Piyush Goyal and Amitabh Kant, and various industry stalwarts graced the occasion. Beginning with Goyal, the event streamlined India’s vision and challenges in its journey to be a developed nation by 2047. Here’s a look at how the event unfolded on the final day of the event:

Trade policy calibrated with growth but open for expansion: Piyush Goyal

India's trade policy is calibrated with its growth trajectory yet open for more expansion, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday.
At the Business Standard Manthan in New Delhi, Goyal said, "We have to look at our growth trajectory and calibrate the trade policy as the country moves through this cycle of growth."

India needs to internationalise its economy and look at a greater degree of engagement with the world and rapid growth in exports. "We will be doing $2 trillion of exports by 2030. I have no doubt we will achieve it," he said.

Goyal also said that in the recently signed European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the four countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, have committed an additional $100 billion to create 1 million direct jobs in India in the next 15 years in lieu of market access. 

India must not brand itself with China-Plus-One tag

It would be wise for India not to make its strategy around ‘China-Plus-One’, the trend of global companies avoiding investing only in the communist nation and diversifying their businesses to other places, said three foreign and defence policy experts.

Kicking off the discussion, former foreign secretary Shyam Saran said China-Plus-One was not about Western and global multinationals abandoning China, uprooting their facilities and shifting to countries like India, adding that Plus One had more to do with these businesses directing most of their fresh investments to other locations.

The three panelists concurred that China-Plus-One was either misunderstood as a wholesale movement away from China or at the least overplayed.

India needs to develop in such a way that its dependency on China reduces, former Indian high commissioner to the UK, Nalin Surie said.

According to former national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, India's choice was not between import substitution and complete dependency on China. Instead, he proposed that India should adopt its own China-Plus-One strategy for imports, under which it would find alternative sources and diversify. "India needs a de-risking or China-Plus-One strategy for itself," said Menon.

Long road ahead for India in meeting green energy targets

India needs to find a balance between its plans to become a developed country by 2047, clean energy and the environment, said a panel that discussed fossil fuel, clean energy and India’s stance in climate talks. 

The experts included Vivek Dewangan, chairman and managing director of REC Ltd; Sunita Narain, director general of Centre for Science and Environment; Ulka Kelkar, executive director at Climate, WRI India, and Derek M. Shah, senior vice-president & head-green energy business at Larsen & Toubro.
India is standing at a crucial juncture and it is imperative to adapt to rapid economic growth along with addressing the vulnerability to environmental issues, Narain said

Talking about India’s aspirations to become a $30 trillion economy by 2047, Kelkar said that no country in the world has become rich by remaining energy poor. She pointed out that there are some major problems at hand currently.

India’s aim to tackle climate change cannot be only through carbon-lens. “As climate change risk starts manifesting, policy-making will have to become more adaptive, and decentralised. Even the new energy infrastructure or transport infra will be at risk due to climate change,” she said.

On the issue of financing in the renewable energy sector, Narain said: “Indian industry is getting far more aware about the needs to transform, to take on actions which are good for them as well as the environment. Scale up needs to happen in sectors such as iron, cement, steel. There’s a lot the industry can do to decrease their carbon footprint.” However, she said that green energy financing is still lagging from the private sector.

Luxury industry fuelling India's economic growth

Pushpa Bector, executive director of DLF Retail, said the luxury industry is a catalyst for economic growth. Drawing parallels with other developing nations, she said luxury signifies confidence in consumer evolution and reflects a nation's readiness to embrace the finest things in the world. In India, the luxury market is projected to reach $200 billion over the years, with the retail segment alone accounting for $60-70 billion.

Kapil Chopra, former president of The Oberoi and founder of Postcard Luxury Hotels and Resorts, said India's economy is in an aspirational phase. As the economy grows, there is a trend of people aspiring for better experiences.

Alexis De Ducla, director at Mathieu Lustrerie, said India has a rich heritage of art, culture, and craftsmanship. Recent developments in terms of investment and policy have boosted customer confidence in the country. 

The panelists agreed that luxury in 2047 will redefine a developed India by not only reflecting economic prosperity but also by embodying sustainability, craftsmanship, and a unique Indian identity that resonates globally.

Viksit Bharat can't thrive without nourishing farm policy

To make India "Viksit Bharat" by 2047, it needs to focus on building human capacity before prioritising infrastructure-led development, Ajay Vir Jakhar, the chairman of Bharat Krishak Samaj, said.

Jhakhar called for the revision of India's current agriculture policy and the need to address issues such as the trust deficit between farmers and the government, filling vacancies in agriculture universities, and addressing climate change disruptions.

Agri economist Ashok Gulati added that without a strong and quality agricultural output, the Vikisit Bharat workforce will be affected. "People have to be fed and fed well. 35 per cent of Indian children below the age of five are stunted. They will become the new workforce," he said. Gulati also noted that this could have an impact on their earning capacity, which will be a roadblock for India's economy.

We need more Adanis, Ambanis, Marutis for India to grow: Amitabh Kant

For India to achieve 'developed nation' status, Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa and former chief executive officer of the National Institution for Transforming India (Niti Aayog), Government of India, stated that the country needs to have more large businesses like Adani and Ambani. 
Kant highlighted India's ability to achieve consensus across diverse issues in the multilateral forum of G20, showcasing its leadership role among emerging markets. He discussed India's contributions ranging from economic growth to Sustainable Development Goals, digital public infrastructure, and addressing the Russia-Ukraine crisis. 

When questioned about India's trajectory towards becoming a developed country by 2047, Kant emphasised the importance of driving growth across various sectors. He stressed the need for aggressive measures to promote manufacturing, sustainable urbanisation, and enhance agricultural productivity.

Giving highest value for money key to Maruti's success: RC Bhargava

Giving average Indians the maximum value for their money was one of the keys behind Maruti India’s success, its 89-year-old chairman RC Bhargava.

“What has kept Maruti on top are two factors. The first is that we have always tried to understand the Indian customer, and the Indian customer is not just the customer who has multiple houses or multiple kinds of assets all over the world, but we are looking at the Indian customer right from the bottom, and we try to cater to all segments of the market. We have tried to do that throughout,” he said.

Reflecting on historical challenges and policy frameworks, Bhargava acknowledged the nuanced dynamics of operating within a regulated environment. Despite critiques, Bhargava credited initiatives like the Phased Manufacturing Programme (PMP) for expediting the localisation of component manufacturing, underscoring the interplay between regulatory pressure and industry evolution.

No country like India for tech companies, says Amazon India head

Amazon Vice-President and India Manager Manish Tiwary said that there is no better country in the world for technological innovations than India.

Talking about the large companies' outlook for India at 2047, Tiwary remarked that due to excellent demographic diversity and quick adoption of technology, India is well poised to become a developed nation by 2047. "I can't think of any country which is better poised. I wouldn't be surprised if we hit developed status before 2047," he added.

When asked about the competitive landscape in the country, Tiwary replied that with the current penetration of e-commerce so low, there are no worries as of now. "If you look at e-commerce, the reality is penetration is only 1-2 per cent. Fashion is 0.5 per cent. You start worrying about competition when penetration is 97-98 per cent. More players will help the ecosystem get better. We have a long way to go before we worry about competition," he added.

Plenty of funding for right startups: Rajesh Magow

As the startup industry grapples with a prolonged period of funding challenges, Rajesh Magow, the CEO of travel company MakeMyTrip, provided reassurance that there is ample capital available for the “right” type of startups.

Offering advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, Magow emphasised the importance of adopting a long-term perspective when starting a business. “Whoever is looking at starting the business, you can't think in terms of two, three, five, or 20 years…The three, five, or 10-year view is from the investors’ lens. They have fund compulsions, they look for exit periods, etc., but not for the founding or management team," he said.

Startups generate more employment than big companies: Sanjeev Bikhchandani

Sanjeev Bikhchandani, the founder of Info Edge and co-founder of Ashoka University, discussed the growth of Info Edge from a startup to a tech giant, and the crucial role of startups in India's development.

Sharing insights from his entrepreneurial journey, Bikhchandani recounted the inception of Info Edge and its evolution into a successful startup. He emphasised the role of startups in driving employment generation and innovation, challenging conventional notions of growth and success.

Using Zomato and Policybazaar as examples, Bikhchandani said that they generated thousands of jobs. However, since this was not in the formal sector, they were not counted. "But, that is also livelihood, and it was done by a startup," he said. He added that big companies had a limit to how much employment they could generate.

Referring to the term "unicorn," Bikhchandani said, "I don't like the term 'unicorn'. I think it's rubbish. You measure a company's health by looking at revenue, profits, customer base, and sustainable growth."

Must decentralise power from states to local govt: Montek Singh Ahluwalia

On the path to making India a developed nation by 2047, there is a need to decentralise power further from states to more local authorities, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, former deputy chairman of the Planning Commission said.

He said that India needs to work on health and education to make India a developed nation. "These are 100 per cent state subjects. Now the problem is that in the delivery of these services, is not at the state level. It's at the lower level," he said.

Ahluwalia also said that the debate should not be about Centre versus states but whether it is even a problem or not.

Arvind Subramanian, the former chief economic advisor, pointed out that the gap in the relations between states and the Centre has widened since the high growth period of the 2000s.

He said that growth has led to divergent growth between the states and has ultimately turned the "amicable" into a "less amicable" union.

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First Published: Mar 28 2024 | 7:44 PM IST

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