Why India Matters
There was a time when the phrase “the sun never sets on the British Empire” was a tribute to the geographical spread and cultural outreach of Great Britain. Somewhere between then and the time Robin Cook declared Chicken Tikka Masala the British national dish, India seems to have taken on the crown in terms of its influence over the globe.
Oasis Of Growth
India is currently an oasis of economic growth in an otherwise overcast global scenario. In FY 16, this south Asian nation recorded a growth of about 7.6 percent and for the last quarter of the financial year, economic growth was pegged at about 7.9 percent. Compare this with the 3.4 percent global growth rate as projected by the IMF World Economic Outlook and it is clear that the Indian government and financial entities have got their act right. CPI (Consumer Price Index) Inflation, India’s traditional nemesis, has been cut back from 10.92 percent in FY 2013 to 5.8 percent in FY 2016.
A burgeoning population and a developing economy also make India one of the largest markets for products and services from the United States of America and Europe. India is currently the third largest oil importer in the world, the second largest smartphone market, and the top gold importer of the world. But it is also a major exporter of gems, petroleum products, food grains, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, and machinery.
Quietly, but also quite certainly, Indian CEOs are taking the world by storm. If you think Indira Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, is the only Indian CEO you can recall, think again. Consider industry majors such as Google (headed by Sundar Pichai), Microsoft Corp. (CEO Satya Nadella), Hewlett-Packard (CEO and President Vyomesh Joshi), Adobe Systems (headed by Shantanu Narayen), MasterCard (CEO Ajaypal Singh Banga), and many more. The list is endless.
Making Its Mark
The ‘Bollywood’ glitz and music are now a regular part of weddings and parties across the globe. But, let’s look further. Last year, when Brazilian novelist, Paulo Coelho tweeted, “My name is Khan (2009) is the best movie I watched this year,” he was echoing a new sensation that is taking over people from all corners of the world. The sensation is called Indian Cinema, more simply ‘Bollywood’. Aamir Khan’s PK grossed over USD 41,000,000 overseas. More recently, Sultan registered an overseas earning of USD 20,300,000, with most of it coming from US, Canada, and UK.
Meanwhile, as the rest of the world is torn apart by religious sentiments, there is one religion that unites India – Cricket. If you come from the cricketing nation, you would certainly know why the nation that learned cricket from its colonial masters went on to win the World Cup twice. The Indian Premier League of 2015 went on to add approximately USD 182 million to the GDP of the country. That is more than the GDP of at least three countries in the world.
Strong UNSC Candidature
India’s bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and China’s attempts to block the move is stale news. But as French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared in April, it is “absurd” that the world’s largest democracy is not a permanent member of the global organization. Many countries have shied away from taking a stand, unlike France, but it may be in the interest of the international community for the US, Russia, and Germany to finally be on India’s side.
The need for reforms in the architecture of UNSC and other global institutions is now a pressing one. India and Africa together represent about one-third of the world’s population, but neither has found adequate representation in these organizations. The time is right and India is ready to take on a greater role in global politics.
On The World Map
When you think about India, do think beyond two of its metropolitan cities Delhi and Mumbai. India’s upcoming industrial hubs and dynamic cities such as Gurgaon (now Gurugram), Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, among others, are vying for attention now.
- Bengaluru, often referred to as the Silicon Valley of India, is among the best cities in the world to launch your business. It has turned out to be the breeding ground for start-up businesses. Not only is it the fastest growing metropolis in the country, it is also known for a number of technological organizations which have their headquarters set up here – Infosys, Wipro, Biocon, and the Indian space research giant, ISRO.
- Up north is Gurugram, the financial and industrial hotspot popular for proving huge business and service industry opportunities. If you are planning to take your enterprise to Gurugram, consider this: over 250 of the Fortune 500 companies have their offices here.
- The second largest city in Maharashtra, and the 101st in the world, Pune is the heart and soul of India’s booming ITES and BPO industries. The ‘Mercer 2015 Quality of Living rankings’ rate Pune among the top 9 emerging cities of the world for hosting “IT and automotive companies”.
- Love your wine? Chances are that your unadulterated beverage is made in Nashik, the city at the forefront of the Indian wine revolution. The famous table grapes grown here are exported to many European countries. This year, skip Australia and take a wine tour in western India.
- Every woman loves her diamonds, and 90 percent of the world’s rough diamonds are cut and polished in the Indian city of Surat. This is also the textile hub of the country with the best linen products of the world produced in and exported from the city.
- Now to the Indian city that ranks highest in terms of Quality of Life – Hyderabad, the city of pearls. But make no mistake. It is not only pearls that Hyderabad is famous for. The 600-square-kilometer Genome Valley high-technology business district of Hyderabad is a cluster of top-end pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies with both research and manufacturing facilities in the valley.
The opportunities that India offer are numerous and diverse. Are you ready to be part of the growth story?
Stability And Strength
Among all the Asian countries, India is the one nation with the potential to step into the world’s center stage. Unlike China, India is a democracy, which, unlike Pakistan, is a stable one. Unlike Russia, India is opening up to be an active participant in global, political and economic developments. Other Asian countries such as Singapore and Malaysia may be more swanky and developed, but the sheer size and diversity of India’s geography, its economy, and population make it a strength to reckon with.
The oil-rich Middle East is now grappling with an ugly fiend that threatens to become unstoppable if left unchecked – the ISIS. The terrorist outfit that calls itself Islamic State (ISIS) claims affinity to Islam, thus, leaving most of the Islamic nations of the Middle East indecisive in their opposition to what is clearly evolving into a global threat. India’s support will be imperative in combating the growing menace of terrorism.
Stepping out of Asia, let us take a look at the developments in Europe. The Greek economic crisis, the Argentine debt battle, the results of the Brexit referendum, and the EU banking crisis have left the EU member nations mired in domestic troubles. With the European Union undergoing a phase of chaotic instability, India stands out in its strength and stability.
Democracy And Diversity
Not unlike the US, the two core values that define India as a nation are democracy and diversity. The first general elections of India were held in 1951-52, and the lower house of the Indian parliament (the House of the People) was chosen by direct election. The nation’s commitment to democracy, and more importantly to universal adult franchise has been unshakable ever since. Given a multi-party system, adequate representation is given to the many different ethnic, cultural, and religious groups in the country. Each state is also governed by a elected local government that handles regional development.
The endless diversity of India is its strength. Instead of fractionalizing the nation, it has helped the people and the Indian society develop a more inclusive, and more tolerant approach towards its own community and towards the world at large. Where else on earth are we likely to find over 1,652 languages and dialects, hundreds of different cultures, and a spectrum of landscapes and biological features, all rolled into one nation.
In India, the freedom to practice the religion of one’s choice is a fundamental right. The country is the birthplace of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, and has a significant presence of people who practice Islam and Christianity. A strong republican structure helps the country and its many states remain united despite these differences.
In a warring world, India sets an example in peaceful coexistence by embracing the various lifestyles of its people.
The sheer spectrum of geographical features you’re likely to find in this one nation is staggering. From the deserts of the north-west to the lofty Himalayan peaks of the north and north-east (Himalayas are the world’s highest mountain range), the vast, fertile Gangetic plain, the Deccan plateau, the tropical rainforests along the southern coasts, sandy, golden beaches, and the archipelagos of Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Currently, India is scientifically and technologically one of the most advanced nations in the world. That comes as no surprise as India’s scientific heritage and learning go back over 5,000 years. But, let us set the past aside and look at recent success stories. India is the first Asian country to have successfully placed its Mars orbiter, the Mangalyaan, in the Martian orbit. It is also the only country to have achieved the feat in its maiden attempt. The research and development spends of India equal about 10 percent of such expenditures across Asia.
India is the undisputed leader among medical tourism destinations across the globe. In 2014 alone, medical tourism in the nation is estimated to have generated about USD 3.9 billion, and each year 5 million people come to India to receive medical treatment and to get surgeries done. Not only are medical facilities in India highly advanced, the costs are about a fraction of those in more advanced countries.
The number of mobile internet users in India in June 2016, was pegged at 371 million. It comes as no surprise, then, that the government has a keen Digital India and e-governance focus. India is also one of the largest software exporters and ITES services enablers in the world.
Widely recognized as one of the major atomic powers of the world, India’s commitment to peaceful use of nuclear energy is appreciable. India is now working on finding more sources of clean and renewable forms of energy. In the UN Climate Change Conference held in Paris in November 2015, India took the lead and launched the International Solar Alliance, an alliance of 120 countries dedicated to the promotion of Solar Energy.
Not only is India well on its way to becoming the most populous nation in the world, it also has the largest diaspora population, says a recent UN report. According to a 2015 survey conducted by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), nearly 16 million Indians live outside the country. This means that over 16 million Indians live in different parts of the globe and are working to power growth and development of these nations. With such a significant global presence, India and the Indian community has made an indelible mark in the world today.
Much To Offer
India has much to offer in terms of travel and education. The country is now one of the most coveted destinations for international students to study technology, medicine, art, and culture. As a travel destination, too, India remains highly popular and inspiring.
It must be the colourful bazaars, or the plethora of cuisines (and curries) to choose from, Yoga and Ayurveda, the warmth of the locals, or the cultural diversity and opportunities to indulge in adventure and sports; whatever the reason, over 7.6 million foreign tourists landed in India in 2014. And each year, this number is growing.
India has come very far from being the land of snake charmers.