Well done on Modi deals, Scott Morrison – he “gets” India

Australian PM Scott Morrison at the virtual talks yesterday with Indian PM Modi.

In a meeting yesterday with Indian PM Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, cemented ties with India in a series of deals worth almost A$190 million. He gets (understands) India.

PM Modi is an “investment magnet”, but is also strongly wary of “multilateral” groupings and has a preference to do deals country by country.

So, PM Morrison did a country by country deal. He used some of the western rhetoric over Russia, Ukraine and China, but then got stuck into business.

What is there to “get” about India that matters in our region?

First, it wants investment.

Second, it stays away from promoting democracy as the ONLY future, instead seeing all countries as different and many having different forms of government – all accepted by India.

Third, it now buys most of its defence hardware from Russia and has a long standing close relationship with them.

Fourth, it wants to be in the QUAD (Australia, Japan, USA and India) but will only play on its own terms – that is, not condemning others and not championing democracy as the only solution.

Fifth, Modi is riding high, and he has numbers to back it up – India is the world’s fastest growing economy in 2020. You have to “get” his confidence levels, which are high.

Sixth, India is keen for more Indians to have access to Australia and to work here – PM Morrison “gets” this, and it was significant that the Monday night talks also included a taskforce to see if both countries could recognise the same education qualifications.

Seventh, India has a proud culture and history, feels rightly that much has been plundered by the west – so it was highly important that the National Gallery of Australia formalised the return of artefacts to India.

Future challenges?

There are plenty. The CECA (free trade deal) will soon announce “early harvest” deals and then plans to complete a full CECA some time this year. Good luck with that – especially as our own Aussie negotiators have always been averse to cherry picking. I think PM Morrison gets the need for flexibility and hope he is challenging his bureaucrats to do the same.

Relying more on our High Commission staff in Delhi would be a good step as we have outstanding people there.

But by and large, finally, it seems Australia is “getting” India.

Tata Sons chief to chair Air India

Natarajan Chandrasekaran

Mumbai-headquartered Tata Sons Chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran has been appointed as the chairman of Air India, media reports said on Monday.

Tata Sons recently acquired debt-laden, state-run Air India in what was a homecoming for the airline that was founded by the Tatas in 1932 as Tata Airlines before being nationalised in 1953.

Tata Group is a huge conglomerate and the “jewel in the crown” is Tata Consulting Services (TCS). No doubt Air India will soon be a leader too.

Read more here:

https://www.peoplematters.in/news/appointments/tata-sons-chief-n-chandrasekaran-appointed-as-chairman-of-air-india-33178?fbclid=IwAR3uA8HLkv5ztTkA0hTpqelJefh8gr4mMDxMToDr6liS40atJFPIo_J4PCM

India has the largest child population – a market hungry for product

India has the largest child population globally – 125-150 million in the age group up to 4 years.

With increasing numbers of Indian women in employment, rising awareness of child nutrition and rapid urbanisation, the paediatric nutrition category presents a significant growth opportunity.

Opportunities include child products in health, wellness and nutrition space – encompassing wellness nutrition as well as disease specific nutrition and our consumer brands.

Add to this education and learning, toys, clothing and much more.

The Demographic Dividend

In a favourable development for India, the growth in India’s working age population (people between 15 and 64 years of age) is outnumbering the growth in its dependant population. Children aged 14 or below as well as people aged above 65 years fall under the latter category.

This surge in the working-age population is expected to last for a total spell of 37 years, until 2055.

According to studies, such a phase is usually accompanied by a rapid economic growth.

Indian diaspora to the rescue for stranded Indians- study shows amazing covid community work

A paper by two University of Melbourne academics, Dr Pradeep Taneja (pictured) and Surjeet D Dhanji, tells the inspiring story of how the Indian diaspora around the world went to the rescue of countless Indians as Covid closed all the doors.

See the paper here:

https://www.academia.edu/73496625/Diaspora_to_the_rescue?email_work_card=view-paper

India has the largest diaspora population in the world – around 13 million Indian citizens living outside the country and another 17 million people of Indian origin spread across 146 countries.

Hundreds of thousands of Indian tourists, students, workers on short-term visas, and families visiting relatives were stranded in far-flung parts of the world.

Amongst these were the elderly and those with medical conditions as well as pregnant women. Grandparents who had travelled abroad to spend time with their grandchildren and children who had travelled to spend time with their grand-parents were all affected by the chaos and confusion caused by the pandemic.

The study covers three different cases around the world, showing how the Indian diaspora took action and pointing to how emergency assistance like this could be further enhanced.

It’s a brilliant report – a tribute to the writers and to the worlds’ biggest diaspora – Indians.

3 flights X 3 meetings strategy to engage with India

Engaging with India means building relationships – and although this is a bit quick, you can build relationships after 3 flights and 3 visits. Anything less places you at risk of misunderstanding both the opportunity and the pathway.

Here are 4 ways to make your 3 flights X 3 meetings introduction work well:

Adopt a patient long term view

One way to improve our cultural dexterity would be to take a long term view and apply lots of patience. Businesses should not start out on market entry unless they are prepared to commit at least five years to making it work.

Focus on relationships

India is not a short term transaction opportunity – to succeed there needs a longer term focus on building relationships. The first trade meeting in India can be exciting and positive, but from the India side this is just seen as an introduction and they will wait to see if the relationship grows.

Remember in Indian culture “no” is rarely said

Indians are among the most courteous and generous hosts on the planet. On top of this, their culture demands that they never provide an outright rejection or “no” statement, even when this is clearly the only answer. To succeed, our businesses and governments need to dig deeper and find the reality beyond the politeness. 

Adapt to indirect communications

Like most of Asia, Indians are indirect communicators. Problems are rarely addressed directly and unless you have an ear for indirectness, you will miss the warning signs. You can learn how indirect communication works.

INTO INDIA recommends you go to India asap – it could be the time of your life! (business and personal)

Digital retail set to boom in India as it leads the world in VC investment

According to research by London & Partners and its analysis of Dealroom.co investment data, India was the second-largest global venture capital investment hub for digital retail startups in 2022, increasing sharply by 175% from US$ 8 billion in 2020 to US$ 22 billion in 2021. Last year, India came in second to the United States, which attracted US$ 51 billion in investment, followed by China, which received US$ 14 billion, and the United Kingdom, which received US$ 7 billion. Bengaluru led the way in terms of worldwide Venture Capital (VC) investments in digital shopping in 2021, with US$ 14 billion, followed by Gurugram with US$ 4 billion and Mumbai with US$ 3 billion.

Bengaluru was a global leader in digital shopping investment last year. The metropolis nearly tripled its inflows of investments from US$ 5 billion in 2020 to take first place, ahead of New York City (second), San Francisco (third), London (fourth), and Berlin (fifth). Bengaluru was placed fifth among cities with the potential to produce future unicorns, just behind London, according to the research. Following a large consumer shift to e-commerce platforms during the pandemic, global venture capital investment in digital shopping more than doubled in 2021. In 2021, total worldwide venture capital investment is estimated to have reached a new high of US$ 140 billion, up from US$ 68 billion in 2020.

Understanding India’s neutrality on Russia and Ukraine

Russia’s Putin meets with India’s Modi in 2018 – Russia has consistently supported India over Pakistan and China

India has taken a lot of criticism for not joining in global criticism of Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

In the drama of conflict, few take time to think – but India perhaps deserves you taking a moment to reflect on why it has taken a neutral stance.

At the very centre of India’s position is that in face of border challenges with China, it needs its defence partnership with Russia to continue.

Interesting that almost all western leaders recognise this strategic dilemma.

India is an important part of the move to balance China in the Indo-Pacific, so it is vital to understand their position.

Few are aware that for all of its democratic and independent life, India has been very close to Russia. It is a long standing relationship.

India is now the only Quad country to have not called Russia out by its name let alone by imposing economic sanctions.

But the other three nations in the Quad know that India’s defence relationship with Russia could be described as its “most valued partnership”, as a recent Lowy Institute paper put it.

How important is Russia to India?  A whopping 86% of Indian military hardware is of Russian origin – and this hardware is central to India’s ability to stand up to China over longstanding territorial disputes.

In 2018, India signed a US$5 billion deal with Russia to buy the S-400 missile defence system. Trump warned India that it might impose sanctions – so far, no sanctions have arisen.

And don’t forget Russia has been the only country to support India over decades of problems with Pakistan. In 1971 when India and Pakistan fought for 13 days, Russia was the only country to help India – no western country provided support. The USA ignored Delhi’s please for help over East Pakistan as it then was.

You could see this as an “over reliance” on Russia, but don’t forget it has been close to Russia since the first Prime Minister Nehru took office – and it is only recently that it has become involved closely with countries like the USA, Japan and Australia.

India’s position on Russia and problems with China were somewhat challenged by the recent Russia-China joint statement, pledging that “there are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation”. India is no doubt seeking to understand what this means – and in such a fast changing environment, is even more unlikely to call our Russia over Ukraine.

With the brutality and horror of the war on Ukraine now clearly visible, whether India will change its neutrality stance remains to be seen.

But hopefully the above information has helped you understand India’s position.

Can Indian Ocean nations move towards OPTIMISM and away from fear and negativity?

Could the nations of the Indian Ocean region combine to put their focus on OPTIMISM as a replacement for rampant negativity, fear politics and division?

What a contrast this would be to the so-called “Indo-Pacific Region” which seems to have one negative driver – containment of China.

Debate has started in Australia which “needs a new narrative and new thinking from the top,” according to the Centre for Optimism which has released a six-point plan for government and industry to adopt to boost their capabilities with a positive, uplifting mindset and optimistic leadership focused on collaboration, participation, and transparency.

What is wrong with the current narrative?

The Centre’s founder Victor Perton said the current national narrative is framed in old behaviours – state-federal squabbling over policy and service responsibility, hand-outs addressing market failures, institutional inertia, and short-run responses to crises.

I would add that our politicians are disconnected, use fear and manipulate the electorate through division and hostility.

The World Economic Forum recently warned its members, including Australia, that the contemporary “lack of optimism could create a vicious cycle of disillusionment and social unrest.”

Mr. Perton said that with Australia coming out of COVID lockdowns, people’s lives have changed, and people expect their governments to learn the lessons too. “They want positivity, not an aggressive fear-driven narrative,” he said.

Victor Perton was a Victorian MP for 18 years, a former Victorian Government’s Commissioner to the Americas, and the Federal Government’s Senior Engagement Adviser for the Brisbane G20 Leaders’ Summit of Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors.

The six (6) point-plan proposed to government and political leaders is:

Collaboration – as a primary goal – Federal Cabinet should create a National Collaboration Commission to exist alongside the ACCC and National Competition Council.

Vision focus – Government Agencies should establish teams in each Department whose core purpose is to develop a vision, a long-run view of the future.

Active community engagement – through the establishment of citizen juries, in which citizens can assess policies, or plans that are either prospective, or already in place.

Reframe measurement (evaluation) – Replace the preoccupation with GDP and introduce a new Optimism indicator…increasing attention on (a) volunteerism, (b) community engagement, (c) non-market work, (d) care for disadvantaged segments, (e) satisfaction with life, and (f) confident and optimistic outlooks.

Reframe economic development – Move from a focus on size of Government to broader based policies. This to include policies on care and health sectors, innovation, education, green capabilities, and supporting them through “needs clusters”. This would involve the establishment of more public-private partnerships and socially responsible funds, including social impact funding.

Broader institutional change – The inclusion of Opposition party members in the National Cabinet to promote bipartisanship and a collective long-term view on national issues which have been clearly delineated, such as those covering climate change and immigration. The Cabinet would have pre-determined flexibility to add issues or remove them from the agenda.

Is this the optimism lens we need?

I think so, and am keen to hear your views and ideas.

https://www.centreforoptimism.com/AustraliaPositiveNarrative/

India sets world record for longest tunnel above 10,000 feet

Atal Tunnel – recently opened by Indian PM Narendra Modi – is the world’s longest highway tunnel above 10,000 feet according to the World Book of Records. 

The tunnel carries a lot of importance strategically as it is 9.02 kilometres long which runs under the ‘Rohtang Pass’ and was constructed on the Manali–Leh highway.

It reduced the travel time by four to five hours and have reduced the distance on Manali–Sarcha road by 46 km. Lt General Mr. Rajeev Chaudhry, Director General of the Border Roads Organisation (DGBR), was honoured for the Border Roads Organisation (BRO’s) outstanding performance in establishing this engineering marvel connecting Manali and the Lahaul-Spiti Valley.

Time to take another look at modern India?

India ranks 3rd in US Green Building Council’s 2021 global list for sustainable spaces

Some things provide a “wake up call” on how quickly things are changing in modern India.

This is a great example.

India is placed third in the globe on the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) annual ranking of the top 10 nations and areas outside of the United States for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) in 2021. The country has seen a 10% rise in LEED certified space since 2020. These are 146 buildings that have a total of 2.8 million gross area square meters (GSM) of space.

India has 1,649 LEED certified buildings with a total area of 46.2 million gross square metres. The Indian government has taken the lead in putting the health of its residents first, asking businesses to start with the required safety standards in place said Mr.Gopalakrishnan Padmanabhan, Managing Director – Southeast Asia & Middle East, GBCI.

Time to take another look at India?

https://www.usgbc.org/leed