India holds a very important place in my life. I have spent many years, learning from, and working with formidable leaders. Today, I believe India is at a crossroads. There has been tremendous urban and economic growth. This for many would be a mark of overall progress. But, there is another reality. Just as elsewhere in the world, India’s growth model is flawed. There are critical challenges in social, environmental and human progress that need to be met. However, it is inspiring to witness how India is addressing these with purposeful action.
I see three big reasons why global companies need to seriously focus on India.
Solving India’s big challenges is a huge business opportunity
Businesses need to be sustainable and ensure a stable, prosperous future for themselves. To do so they need to actively invest in addressing human problems. The cost of not getting involved is far greater than being part of the solution. Every human challenge is an opportunity, and solving them promises to drive commercial returns.
At the Xynteo Exchange/ Norway, Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever and Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion spoke about the commercial opportunity that arises from working towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Paul mentioned that addressing the SDGs results in the highest returns mankind has ever seen. The SDGs cover many of India’s challenges.
In March 2017, Xynteo launched India2022, a purpose-driven global coalition working with the government to help them move toward a new model of growth in India. The ambition is to accelerate development by India’s 75th year of independence. As part of this coalition, we are working with Sanjiv Mehta, CEO & Managing Director, Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) and his team to find commercial solutions to address the challenge of plastic waste in India. I know that the solutions we arrive at are going to be of immense global value going ahead. I believe that as leaders, each of us has the power to create a different kind of growth – be it personal, commercial or economic.
Investing in India is investing in the future
Early this year, Royal Dutch Shell unveiled their technology hub in Bangalore, one of the largest investments in India. Set across 52-acres, complete with advanced facilities and space for 1500 staff, it is truly an inspiring place. Every time I meet Harry Brekelmans, Shell’s Projects & Technology Director, he speaks passionately about how investing in innovation and technology in India, are vital to meet the needs of a growing world population.
Nitin Prasad, Chair, Shell Group of Companies, India spoke at the Marketplace at The Xynteo Exchange/Norway. He said, “there are 300 million people in India who do not have access to energy today.” India will need more energy to fuel its economy between now and 2040 compared to any other country, according to OPEC. With India’s thrust towards initiatives such as Smart Cities and Make in India, it is a great time for global companies to invest their resources in India. When we combine forces across industries, sectors and borders; that’s when we are at our most powerful.
India has a massive demographic advantage
India is set to become the world’s youngest country by 2020 with an average age of 29. The youth in India are innovative and have a strong bias for change. To build a prosperous future for the world, we must nurture this powerful demographic dividend.
At Xynteo, we are invested in youth. We provide a platform for talent, capital and ideas to come together to advance a new growth model. Some of the most amazing young minds in India are working as part of the India2022 Impact Tracks. Each of these emerging leaders is collaborating with a larger ecosystem to solve big challenges in India. I believe that as leaders, we need to harness this diverse talent and realise the enormous opportunity that India provides.