RIL’s Jio moves to shake up India’s retail market in partnership with kirana stores

INTO INDIA wrote recently about Facebook investing in Jio, the Reliance Industries (RIL) internet and  telecoms arm.

Now they have announced a move which could long term shake up the retail space in India.

It seems that forever retail in India has been dominated by “mom and pop” local stores which are known as “kirana stores”. Most retail changes so far have been in competition with these stores.


But kirana stores have a firm grip on the Indian shopping psyche.

So now comes news that RIL has started home delivery of essentials in partnership with local kirana stores in Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan. These services are available under JioMart, an e-commerce venture of Reliance Retail, an RIL subsidiary.


This innovation uses WhatsApp (owned by Facebook), which has more than 400 million users in India. If it goes well, the scheme will be extended to other Indian cities.


Bank of America reports that RIL could digitise 5 million stores by 2023. Kirana stores are keen to go digital, driven in a big way by GST compliance.

Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of RIL, is moving fast to change from a petrochemical giant to a mixed business including strong telecom and retail capacity.


Facebook buys big in India and the battle for market share is on

Facebook has taken a huge leap into India.

It has bought a 9.99% stake in Reliance Jio platforms for US$5.7bn. According to Mugunthan Siva, CEO, India Avenue Investment Management (Sydney): “This is the largest investment for a minority stake by a technology company anywhere in the world.”

I would add it is the largest FDI in the technology sector in India.

So now the battle lines are drawn in India – the deal will also help Facebook battle rapidly growing Chinese apps like Tiktok which have attracted India’s youth. Not to mention a mouth-watering four-way tech tussle with Japan’s Softbank, US heavyweights Google & Amazon and China’s Alibaba.

India is worth fighting over – a recent report by Cisco said India is poised to have more than 900 million internet users due to the increased penetration of affordable smartphones and cheaper internet plans. India will also have around 2.1 billion internet-connected devices by 2023, said the report.

This is also another step for the Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) which has been pursuing an oil-to-telecom move plus cutting debt.

Mukesh Ambani

In less than four years, Jio has brought more than 388 million people online,

This battle is bigger than just the investment – Jio Platforms, Reliance Retail and Facebook’s WhatsApp service have also entered into a commercial partnership agreement to further accelerate Reliance Retail’s new commerce business on the JioMart platform using WhatsApp and to support small businesses on WhatsApp.

Ambani invested around $40 billion to launch Jio in 2016. RIL is also the largest retail player in India thanks to a series of aggressive expansionary moves into consumer-facing businesses such as e-commerce and grocery.

Austrade and Amazon provide “your passage to online India”

Vegemite will make its way into Indian shoppers’ online baskets after the launch of an Amazon Australia store there – possibly the most exciting India news for Aussie consumer goods exporters.

The Aussie shop at Amazon India already has Australian brands including Capilano, Swisse, Sukin, Gaia Skin Naturals, Australis, Sanitarium, Sun Rice, Orgran, Australia’s Own and the Byron Bay Chilli Co available immediately.


Why is this so exciting? India has just been a distant dream, a major hassle, a demanding market with too many markets, too many restrictions and challenges at every turn. Going with this online alternative makes it accessible, sensible and possible.

Up to now, India is Australia’s fifth-largest export market and is tipped to be the third biggest economy in the world by 2035, behind China and the US. This could well up the priority of India for Australian exporters.


Who can play in this new space? Australian food, health, fashion, sporting goods, home care and lifestyle brands.

The online store gives local Australian businesses easier access to 450 million internet users in India out of the population of 1.3 billion.

How do you get into this online space?

You still have to know about India, the market and the trends. You also have to know where you might fit in this scene. You would expect me to say this – but having someone here who knows India has been a key for almost every successful exporter to India.

Then team up with Austrade and Amazon for your “passage to online India”.



How to thrive in Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 will power ahead after Covid19, bringing massive change – an Oxford study estimates that 47% of the jobs in the US, 69% of the jobs in India and 77% of the jobs in China will not exist in 25 years – such is the pace of change under Industry 4.0.

How will you thrive? Whether mid-career, just beginning or at university, here are some ways to make yourself adaptable for Industry 4.0:

  1. Show you can continue to learn

We know employers’ value this very highly – their focus is not on what you know through your degree – but is more on what you can learn in future. Prepare for this by being curious, reading and listening widely, entering discussion groups and being able to summarise what you have learned outside of university or since your degree.

  1. Demonstrate wisdom and common sense

For employers, further than what you know is how you think, and the value of wisdom and common sense. The best way to describe the difference between knowledge and wisdom is through the humble tomato – knowledge tells you a tomato is a fruit (not a vegetable) – but wisdom prevents you adding the tomato to a fruit salad. One fast track to wisdom is via mentors and guides, those who can share experience with you at whatever level you currently are.

  1. Gain good collaboration and friendship skills

Industrial 4.0 will make collaboration easy and instant with anyone, anywhere and anytime – and the change will benefit those who have the skills to reach out, make friends, work across the globe and build collaboration. Future corporations and employers will be looking for people who can build collaboration.

  1. Gain cross-border understanding and skills

Already our lives in one country are intersecting with lives of other countries, and Industrial 4.0 will make the globe an even smaller place. Those who have travelled, who have acquired both knowledge and experience of other cultures will be in high demand, simply because almost every job will have global aspects.

  1. Become an outstanding communicator

Traditional “soft skills” training will not prepare students for the fast future – outstanding communication skills for Industrial 4.0 will include rapid pitching, ability to support points in a way which moves others, skills to relate directly and closely with those above and below you – any student sitting back quietly as a “newbie” will get left behind. Old notions of being silent in front of elders or superiors will not apply. Respectful and strong communication skills will rule.

  1. Be a team-based problem solver

More work will be team-based and some of those who succeed will actually present to future employers as a team. Problem solving as a team while at university should lead students to then approach employers as teams – a good standout in the race to gain attention.

  1. Build self-reliance and resilience

As jobs come and go, individuals will need to be able to bounce back and start again, maybe many times in their careers. Where no jobs are forthcoming, graduates will need to create their own or join teams that provide solutions.

Work on these skills so you can thrive during Industry 4.0



Think things will go “back to normal” after Covid 19? Think again as Industry 4.0 will flourish

Think things will “go back to normal” after Covid19? Think again – for the moment it is over, what is called Industrial Revolution 4.0 will power ahead and the changes will be dramatic.

An Oxford study estimates that 47% of the jobs in the US, 69% of the jobs in India and 77% of the jobs in China will not exist in 25 years – such is the pace of change under Industry 4.0.

But most employees, students and many universities will not be ready for the fast-changing world of “Industrial Revolution 4.0” which has begun and will be in full swing by the time most graduate.

What kind of world is Industry 4.0?

The Economist Intelligence Unit 2017 report showed younger generations face a significantly different world in their future working and personal lives. Developments such as machine learning and automation promise further disruption, particularly in the workplace, and many established jobs are likely to vanish as a result.

Whole employment sectors are likely to disappear, with others hopefully created. Students, workers and entire economies will compete across global borders for the best education, jobs and growth; all three will need to be nimble, flexible and dynamic, ready to recognise and respond to emerging trends swiftly.

Industry 4.0 will make huge advances in genomics, artificial intelligence, robotics, materials and manufacturing technologies – with convergence bringing massive rates of change.

The first three industrial revolutions were steam and water-power driving mechanisation in the late 1700’s, electricity from 1870 creating mass production and the electronics and IT revolution of the 1960’s onward. Each “revolution” was led by one change or one sector. Industrial 4.0 could not be more different with at least 10 major innovations converging to create across the board revolutionary change.


The megashifts of Industrial 4.0 include Digitisation, Mobilisation, Screenification, Disintermediation, Transformation, Intelligisation, Automation, Virtualisation, Anticipation and Robotisation.

The changing world of work

As with previous industrial revolutions, new technologies will create new jobs and simultaneously destroy many old ones. The rise of machines, from robots to smart software, threatens to impact not just low-skilled factory and construction workers, but everyone including managers, software engineers, stock traders and taxi drivers.

This is already happening – China’s factories are adding robots faster than they are hiring people. India’s information technology sector is already witnessing jobless growth and total employment may have peaked.

“Humanity will change more in the next 20 years than in the previous 300 years” – Gerd Leonhard “Technology vs Humanity” (Fast Future Publishing 2016).

Good news – India could shape Industrial 4.0

As the world’s largest democracy and the country with one of the highest number of scientists and engineers, India is a key political, social and economic player that could shape the course of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

It is exciting that the Geneva based World Economic Forum has created a Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in India –  NITI Aayog will coordinate the partnership on behalf of the government and the work of the centre among multiple ministries.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution will change how we produce, how we consume, how we communicate and even how we live,” WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said.

The challenge for universities and students is to enter a world of constant change – where jobs you are being trained for might not be there any more, where you might have to create your own job, or become an entrepreneur while at university, or team up with friends to create an enterprise.

In my next blog – how to thrive in Industry 4.0


Stephen Manallack is the author of four books including “Soft Skills for a Flat World” (Tata McGraw-Hill India 2010). He led a Pilot Study on Improving the Employability of Indian Graduates in his home city of Melbourne, where he has also been President of the Australia India Business Council. A passionate advocate of closer relations with India, his blog is at

India’s water and waste provide big opportunities for Australian firms

Water and waste management and technologies are in high demand in India.

Funding from the Indian Government and the World Bank is driving new projects.

Local players are doing well – the Water & Effluent Treatment Business of L&T Construction has secured three Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) water management orders from the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation (KUIDFC).

According to the company’s statement, under the contracts it will be responsible for ‘Design, Build, Operate, Maintain and Transfer of water supply systems.

Austrade has long been a champion of Australian expertise getting into this sector in India. It says: “The Indian industrial water and waste-water market are going through a shift with recycling and reuse, zero liquid discharge, and online effluent quality monitoring systems becoming mandatory across industries.”

Recycling and reuse of water has been made mandatory for industries and housing projects in some states. Industries across power, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, refineries and textiles and other sectors are gearing to meet stringent pollution norms, leading to increased demand for reliable water and wastewater treatment technologies.

Austrade points to four major opportunities in India:

  • Ganga River Cleaning Project: US$3.5 billion (jointly funded by the World Bank and the Government of India) project to focus on river restoration, building sewage treatment infrastructure across 118 towns, village level waste water management, and rehabilitation of existing sewage treatment plants (STPs).
  • National Hydrology Project: US$700 Million (jointly funded by the World Bank and the Government of India) project aimed at establishing a hydrologic database and hydrological information system (HIS) for effective water resource planning and management.
  • Groundwater Aquifer Mapping and Management Project: US$1 billion projects aimed at data acquisition through 21,000 exploratory and observatory borewells to be excavated, preparation of aquifer maps and real time groundwater monitoring.
  • Smart Cities Initiative: Water is a significant aspect of the smart cities initiative in India. Projects on urban water supply, recycle and reuse of waste water, smart water meters are in pipeline.


South Australian firm Hydro-dis is one of several Aussie firms active in India – it has snared a role in the Cleaning up the Ganges project.

The company, based in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, has developed a new device that provides immediate disinfection, improves the efficiency of metal removal and includes residual chlorine to reduce contamination after treatment.

Post Covid19 could be a good time for a major Aussie push into the water and waste landscape of India – we are good at it, have the expertise and the technology.


Mahatma Gandhi can inspire business and leaders in the post Covid19 world

When Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world” he proclaimed one of the great calls to action of all time. You want change? Be that change – start with yourself.

After Covid19 we will all have changed in some way. We need to.

So, today:

Mahatma Gandhi can inspire the post Covid19 world

In 1882 the British rulers of India imposed a Salt Act which banned Indians from collecting or selling salt – as a result, Indians had to buy salt from their British rulers.

In 1930, Mahatma Gandhi developed his concept of SATYAGRAHA – nonviolent resistance. He walked 240 miles to the coast to peacefully break this law.


What was the outcome? India had a pathway to independence – nonviolent resistance. Mahatma Gandhi was now centre stage in the march to Indian independence – the nation had a voice and he became a global figure.

How should this inspire us for post Covid19? Especially those of us who are in business or are budding entrepreneurs?

Instead of complaining how things “should be”, take action

Become a visual symbol of what you want – pictures of Gandhi collecting salt went global

Stick to core principles (for Gandhi, Satyagraha)

Be agile, innovate and create simple, local things the market can do – thousands picked up salt and defied the British

Think of ways to break out of the norm, defy conventions and thereby gain market presence


For Indian friends – what makes Australians so different?

My Indian friends and colleagues often talk about our Aussie cricketers – skills so good but sledging so bad, very blunt yet charming as well. Some go on to talk about how casual we Aussies are, even when meeting the elite.

I think we Australians remain something of a mystery to most Indians.

So, here is my take on what is in our hearts (or what are our values) – yes, we have time to reflect in this era of Covid-19.

I like to outline four characteristics of Australians:

  1. Give everyone a “fair go”
  2. All should be treated equally, and have equal opportunity
  3. Be casual and friendly and say “G’day mate” to complete strangers
  4. Be confident that “we’ll be right” – we have always found a way to bounce back

These four – the casual friendliness, the fair go, egalitarianism and resilience – have defined what it is to become Australians, and in these concepts is the heart of what has attracted so many to our shores.

Of course, we do not always stick by these values.

Look how the arrival of a few desperate families in leaking boats led many to abandon the fair go, as if it never existed.

In the face of wars, bushfires, floods, droughts, financial depressions and more, we have unpacked our casual bravado (she’ll be right mate) and found a way through.

You might not know Australia was founded by the British to house their convicts. Not a great start – but out of this has come a free and open society with sophisticated cities, world leading agribusinesses and services the envy of many.

Out of the humble beginning of convicts came a society that strives to be all inclusive – whether you are thousands of miles from anyone, you should still have a phone, an education and so on.

As the convicts would have understood, freedom is more than the right to vote. These values have made Australia a genuinely free society – for they underpin that greatest of freedoms, to be whoever you are and whoever you want to be.

Now, if only we could bring ourselves to truly understand the minds of Indians.

Will Australia’s vision swing to the Indian Ocean rim after Covid-19?

Australia is torn between two worlds – it has an unchanging alliance with the USA, but it is placed in the middle of a massively changing region, the Indian Ocean. The two can make life uncomfortable.

We are all expecting life to be somehow different after Covid-19. Perhaps one of the differences will be Australia looking more to the west – to the Indian Ocean.

If so, there will be a lot of diplomatic wriggling to be done, with China and the USA looking on.

Why does the Indian Ocean matter so much?

One third of the world’s population (2.5 billion) live around the Indian ocean rim. Their average age is below 30, making it the youngest region on earth.

This ocean is critical to global trade and food and energy security.

There are a dizzying array of global strategic and regional military and security interests.

It is at the crossroads of how the world works. Global trade and economic growth flow in and through it.

But it is also a region where instability and conflict can quickly arise – badly drawn borders create disputes, internal conflicts are rife and competing national interests make for a volatile region.

Why is the Indian Ocean so important for Australia?

First, it’s our neighbourhood.

Second, we are starting from way behind for we have long ignored this region and only recently have been building solid bridges.

Third, one-third of Australia’s coastline borders the Indian Ocean.

Fourth, our future depends on security of lines of trade and the development of both on-shore and off-shore assets – these hold the key to our economy and development.

Fifth, when you look at this Wikipedia map of the “western world” you might wonder why we have not looked to the Indian Ocean before.


Best of both worlds?

Looking west to the Indian Ocean does not mean we have to ignore our powerful friends – China to the north and USA to the east.

Changing our view while keeping our old friends will take diplomatic skill.

And probably it also takes time.