Ten Most Significant Changes in India in the Last Decade

Forbes documents the top ten most significant changes that India has witnessed from 2010 to 2017. Read a lightly edited summary of these below:

1) Emerging as one of the largest economies

The recent economic expansion noted in India has brought a record number of people out of poverty. A growing middle class fuels its impressive consumer growth. Today, India is the world’s third largest market for smart phones and the sixth largest for cars; its software industry employs more than four million people directly and more than ten million indirectly.

With almost fifty percent of India’s population under the age of twenty-six, the country faces the challenge of finding jobs for one million citizens who enter the employment market every month.

2) Gaining diplomatic clout

With economic prosperity, India gained strategic importance. India’s Civil Nuclear Treaty with the U.S. in 2008 ushered India into the global nuclear elite. For the last three years, India has given more aid than it has received, with neighbors Bhutan, Afghanistan and Nepal topping the list of recipients. All of this has added up to give India much more power in diplomatic negotiations.

The current Indian government is the first one to consistently conduct diplomacy in the language of international business. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has undertaken more than 70 foreign trips since taking office in May 2014. Given his focus on trade and investment, Modi is widely promoting the fact that India jumped 30 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business list for 2018 to the 100th place.

3) Evolving federalism

Cooperative federalism of India’s 29 states has now morphed into a competitive federalism in which states – many with the populations of large countries – vie with each other for investment. Foreign investors need to assess the political and regulatory scenarios at both the federal and state levels and pay attention to the state-wise ease of doing business rankings that are published every year.

In the middle of 2017, India replaced dozens of state and federal taxes with a national one, called the Goods and Services Tax or GST. The federal government created a more unified national market which is expected to lead to greater efficiencies and a more attractive business environment.

4) Fighting corruption and “black” money

Prime Minister Modi’s government was elected on an anti-corruption manifesto, and in November 2016, Modi announced the immediate withdrawal of two high-value currency notes. In one stunning move, 86% of the currency was sucked out of circulation, to be gradually replaced by new bills. The declared aim of the move was to fight black money and counterfeiting.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, has recently been bolstered by an expanded Enforcement Directorate, the federal agency tasked with fighting money laundering. Between April and August of 2017, the Enforcement Directorate and the Securities and Exchange Board of India, the stock market regulator, acted against at least 331 fake companies and 100 brokerages charged with facilitating money laundering. This government has implemented Aadhaar, the world’s largest biometric identification system, to root out duplication of identities and safeguard welfare plans from corruption-related leakages. Aadhaar was conceived during the previous government of Dr. Manmohan Singh but Modi’s team has fully embraced its power.

5) Forging a stricter compliance regime

The Reserve Bank of India, the country’s central bank, has been given more power in 2017 to act against loan defaulter. The Companies Act of 2013, despite many problems, also brought clearer accountability to corporate anti-corruption and anti-fraud measures.

6) Emergence of the modern Indian  and Indian led multinational

Indian business groups began to extend their international footprint in this decade – India’s Tata Group bought Britain’s Corus Steel for $13 billion in January 2007. The next month, the Aditya Birla Group, announced the acquisition of Canada’s Novelis for $6 billion. The year after that, Tata Motors bought the Jaguar Land Rover car businesses from Ford Motor for $2.3 billion. These acquisitions have helped change the culture of corporate India, embedding international best practices in some of India’s top companies. During the same period, executives of Indian origin were appointed to lead Pepsico, Google. Adobe, Microsoft, Deutsche Bank and Reckitt Benckiser.

7) Tilting to the political right

India’s growing right-wing nationalism concerns business leaders who feel that a sense of nationalism is in the way of business decisions and policies. As the most populous democracy in the world heads towards another national election in the first half of 2019, this position is unlikely to soften anytime soon (“according to Forbes”)

8) Growing wealth of “godmen”

The fastest growing consumer company in the country today is Patanjali, which was founded just a decade ago by Baba Ramdev, a yoga evangelist whose religious sermons on his own television channel are watched by tens of millions every day. His diet-biscuit-to-dish-washer company is now a $1.6 billion behemoth whose success has forced several multinational giants to rethink their market strategies.

9) Changing security challenges

In  the November 2008 terrorist attacks, when Pakistani terrorists attacked four locations across Mumbai, India resolved to fight terrorism in a more coordinated way.

10) Leaping into a digital future

The Modi government has launched Digital India, a campaign to improve the country’s digital infrastructure and offer more government services online. Many Indian companies are leveraging artificial intelligence, data analytics and machine learning to disrupt their markets and deliver a competitive edge.

Indian flag

December 5, 2017   No Comments

India Reduces Tax on 177 items

On Friday, November 10, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council announced the biggest concession on taxes since the new indirect tax system took effect on July 1. The Council reduced the list of items attracting the top 28% tax rate to just 50 from 227 previously. The items that were removed were then placed under the 18% tax bracket.

The tax rate was reduced on  177 items ranging rom granite and marble to chewing gum and chocolates, deodorants, and detergents, and will result in a revenue loss of about $3 billion  a year. The tax cut is aimed at making the new indirect tax regime more acceptable to people and to reduce the burden on businesses, reports Mint.

Taxes

Prime Minister Modi said, “There is consensus that slowly the 28% slab should be brought to 18%. But it will take some time because it has a big revenue implication.”

November 10, 2017   No Comments

Corporate America Bets on India

John Chambers, executive chairman, Cisco, and chairman, U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum says, “While India has long been an important global market, never before has it attracted so much enthusiasm from the American business community.”

Chambers attributes India’s economic transformation, from “slow follower to fast innovator in a matter of several years,” in large part to Prime Minister Modi’s ambitious economic reforms, reports Business Today.

PM Modi and John Chambers

PM Modi and John Chambers

So what are these changes, that Chambers thinks can propel India to be “the second largest economy by 2050“?

In his words…

Rebooting India’s Economy

Demonetizing India’s monetary system is a critical step towards dismantling the cash-centric black market and getting more of the population on a formal, taxable economic grid. The banking system will improve as India heads towards a cashless society, which will ultimately increase credit access and financial inclusion beyond reducing the “black economy.” More importantly, it moves India’s economy into the 21st century.

Adopting the Goods and Services Tax

The Indian government formally adopted the Goods and Service Tax (GST) to streamline the country’s complicated system of local and national tax levies into one payment. Some economic experts project that the implementation of the GST will increase the Indian GDP by 1 to 2 percent.

Propelling India into the Digital Age

Launched in 2015, his [Modi’s] Digital India program has committed unprecedented investments to building the country’s digital infrastructure. Of all the changes ushered in by Modi, I believe this will play the greatest role in providing jobs to India’s rapidly growing workforce, which grows by over 1 million new people each month. And this will not only impact India-collaboration on the digital front, it has the potential to uplift bilateral trade to new heights.

The Prime Minister has the ability to create a vision, communicate it well while building hope for its future, and eventually execute that vision – once he determines something is good for India, he is truly fearless.

October 12, 2017   No Comments

Volvo’s Managing Director Says GST Is Good for Business

In an interview with the Economic Times, Tom Von Bonsdorff managing director of Volvo Auto India said that the recently introduced Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a business enabler. “The ease of doing business in India will grow. Now we have just transitioned to GST, give it a few months, it will settle down and will be good for business.”

Bonsdorff told the publication that the company will continue to bring hybrid cars into India despite the higher GST levies on this category of vehicles. Hybrid cars are the crucial first step in helping India achieve its 2030 goal of switching to electric cars for personal transport, he added. In 2019, Volvo will launch its fully electric car globally.

Volvo Logo

“We launched our first plug-in-hybrid last fall. We will continue to launch plug-in-hybrids in all the cars that we bring in. We are committed to that,” Bonsdorff said. He also noted that the company had a good start this year and will go forward in its plan to bring in new cars. He was confident of achieving a target of selling 2000 cars and having 25 new showrooms by the end of this year.

July 20, 2017   No Comments

M&A Deals Surge in India

According to assurance, tax, and advisory firm Grant Thornton, during January-May 2017, there were 170 mergers and acquisition deals worth $35.45 billion in India, registering a significant jump over last year deals worth $13.37 billion.

“All eyes seem to be now on the Goods and Services Tax implementation and its impact on not only trade and economy, but more importantly on investor interest,” Grant Thornton India partner Prashant Mehra said. He added that since there is a clear visibility on this, one should see good traction in both M&A and PE.

A handshake

In May, the e-commerce sector led the deal activity by contributing over 53 percent of the total transaction value. The month also witnessed deals worth over $100 million in the banking and financial services, hospitality and leisure, and real estate sectors, Grant Thornton’s report added.

“Increasing consolidation is driving deal volumes in the start-up sector, capturing 25 percent of volumes with highest activity witnessed in the on-demand services space,” quotes BusinessLine from the report.

June 21, 2017   No Comments