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.

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Posted on by Gunjan Bagla
Gunjan Bagla
California-based management consultant Gunjan Bagla runs Amritt, a consulting firm helping American companies to succeed in India. Amritt is the trusted advisor for India market research, India business development, India market entry, Global Engineering, Global Technology Scouting, India R&D and Open Innovation. Gunjan is author of "Business in 21st Century India: How to Profit Today from Tomorrow’s Most Exciting Market" (Hachette Book Group, 2008), Amazon's top rated title on the subject. He has appeared as the India Expert on BBC Television, Bloomberg TV, Fox Cable Business and has been quoted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter and Business Week for his expertise on India.

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