Adani group transforms from coal empire to infrastructure, renewables and data

Gautam Adani is transforming his business

After spending two decades building a business empire centred on coal, Indian billionaire Gautam Adani is now looking at a different future. His ambitious plans are getting a boost from close friend Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr Adani is diversifying into airports, data centres and defence – sectors Mr Modi considers crucial to meeting India’s economic goals. Investors are rewarding the pivot.

In less than two years, Mr Adani has gained control of seven airports and almost a quarter of India’s air traffic.

Adani will boost his renewable energy capacity almost eightfold by 2025.

Last week, he won a contract to co-develop a port terminal in Sri Lanka, a neighbour India is courting to check China’s influence in the region.

Adani Enterprises last month signed a deal with Edge- ConneX to develop and operate data centres across India.

After starting out as a commodities trader in the late 1980s, Mr Adani is now India’s second-wealthiest person, with a net worth of US$56 billion. He has added US$50 billion to his fortune in the past year, about US$5 billion more than Mr Ambani, Asia’s richest man, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

USA coming to terms with India’s “longstanding relationship with Russia”

India’s decision to purchase S-400 missile systems from Russia sparked debate in the USA

INTO INDIA has often reminded readers that India has a close and long relationship with Russia – and is capable of being friends with both sides of international disputes.

Now they’re talking about this in the US.

Here’s what Admiral John Aquilino said during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday to be the next commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command or INDOPACOM: “The United States needs to understand that India has had a longstanding relationship with the Russians for security cooperation and military equipment.”

“India is really a terrific partner and as we’ve seen from the recent Quad discussions, I think the importance of India and the rest of the nations in the Quad will increase. We’re at a balance. However, India has had a longstanding relationship with the Russians for security cooperation and for military equipment,” he said.

Let’s hope the USA can also move away from the “goodies and baddies” approach to international affairs and see that it is possible to sustain healthy connections with apparently competing countries and ideologies.

Global “Indo-Pacific” strategies appear to target China

HMS Queen Elizabeth

Global “Indo-Pacific” strategies appear to target China

Here is a selected list of recent initiatives that might be designed to contain China:

  • The British Government is about to announce a foreign and defence policy review with the “new big idea” of a focus on the Indo-Pacific
  • The new UK aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and accompanying fleet will deploy in May on a maiden voyage to the Indian Ocean coordinated with the US
  • On the flight deck will be a squadron of F35 jets from the US Marine Corps, showing UK and US cooperation
  • The UK mission looks very much like a strike force, including two Type 45 destroyers, an Astute Submarine and two Type 43s
  • At the same time the recent QUAD (Japan, India, Australia, USA) meeting was the first attended by all four leaders and was strong on a free and open Indo-Pacific
  • India, Australia and Japan have an active working party examining supply chain security (code for not buying everything from China)
  • Many foreign ministries from France to Germany have recently produced Indo-Pacific strategies
  • Former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer recently said “The single most geopolitical issue in the world today is the rise of China”
  • Downer went much further in his comments: “This is an issue of war and peace.”
  • Meanwhile Australia is in the 10th month of a trade war with Beijing
  • France and Germany are also deploying large warships to the region this year
  • The UK also wants to turn the G7 into an alliance of 10 democracies by inviting South Korea, India and Australia – yet another concern for China

The Indo-Pacific packs some punch – it now accounts for close to half of global economic output and more than half the world’s population: it contains the world’s two most populous nations, China and India; the world’s second and third largest economies, China and Japan; the world’s largest democracy, India.

Add these up – and draw your own conclusions. What do you think?

Is the QUAD becoming more like NATO?

The QUAD meeting in March was the first where all four national leaders attended – signalling a new higher level for the group which is India, Australia, Japan and the USA.

China will see this meeting as “containing China”, an attitude likely to harden stances between China and the countries of the region. Although it is far from being another NATO, there is no doubt this meeting moved the QUAD in that direction.

Since its creation in 2004, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue has striven to be a loose cooperation and has tried not to become an overtly security group along the lines of NATO. It is a fine line to tread, as the increasing focus of the QUAD has been China.

Although the word “China” does not appear in the recent statement, all the language points to it – promote free, open rules based order, international law, counter threats, freedom of navigation and overflight, democratic values and meet challenges to the rules based maritime order in the East and South China Sea.

The US did not hold back in its language – US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who sat in on the summit, declared “these four leaders made a massive joint commitment today”.

“We have taken the Quad to a new level,” Mr Sullivan said from the White House.

Yet the QUAD partners have diverse perspectives and perhaps very different reasons for coming together. Certainly, Chinese belligerence has been a big motivation.

Australia has been bruised and somewhat taken by surprise by the recent Chinese trade war which has seen massive decline in Australian products in China – at the same time as Covid has hit the high paying international education market from China. When Prime Minister Morrison went public and alone in calling for an inquiry into the Chinese origins of Covid19, the diplomatic lines of the two countries went blank and the trade war “punishment” from China rolled out – the two countries have not been speaking for some time.

India on the other hand has close commercial and personal (leaders) ties with Japan, plus it has experienced border clashes with China in the Himalayan region.

For India and Australia, the meeting adds to their increasing close relationship with Japan, boosted by recently creating a three-country working group to improve supply chain collaboration. Further bad news for China.

In another step up, the Foreign Ministers will meet at least once a year.

It’s all about – in the QUAD’s own words – “leveraging our partnership to help the world’s most dynamic region respond to historic crisis, so that it may be the free, open, accessible, diverse, and thriving Indo-Pacific we all seek.”

China will not like what it has seen from this meeting.

China’s “close the doors” diplomacy (as seen with India and Australia) and punitive actions have certainly added urgency to the QUAD dialogue and might in the end be regretted in Beijing. But of course, how would we know? When the doors are closed, there is no diplomacy or discussion with China.

Why is the Indian American diaspora so successful and now influential in the US?

The power of India in the US. People hold placards of Kamala Harris, as she prepares to take her oath as vice-president of America, at her ancestoral village in Thulasendrapuram.

Migrants from India are the most successful migrant group in the USA and now they are becoming influential and leading in politics. Even President Joe Biden recently quipped that “Indian Americans are taking over the country”.

These Indian Americans have played a “stellar role” in education, technology and entrepreneurship. Now public administration and politics.

Companies in the US headed up by Indian American CEO’s right now include Google, Microsoft, Albertsons, Micron Technology, Mastercard and Adobe Inc.

Biden should feel close to the Indian migrants – his speech writer (Vinay Reddy), Vice President (Kamala Harris) and the leadership of NASA’s Mars Mission (Swati Mohan) all have Indian heritage. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Indians are a small migrant group – around 3.8 million migrated making up 1.2 per cent of the US population.

But this diaspora is the richest, most educated and among the most successful ethnic groups in the USA.

Why?

Indian entrepreneurial drive makes them unique among migrants

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine of the US in its report titled The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration had said in 2015-16 that “Indian immigrants are the most entrepreneurial of any group including natives, and immigrant businesses represent more than a quarter of businesses in the transportation, accommodation, and recreation and entertainment sectors.”

Indians have chased better education

According to Pew Research Center data from September 2017, about 32 per cent of Indian Americans have a bachelor’s degree and 40 per cent are post-graduates. The comparable figures for all Asian Americans are 30 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively. If all Americans are considered, Indians stand out even more as only 19 per cent of Americans have undergraduate degrees and 11 per cent have post-graduate education.

Indians make more money

The Indian community in the US earn a lot more than all other ethnic groups, white Americans included. A recent survey by Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development found that the average income of Indian American families is $120,000, compared to the overall US average of $88,000.

So, why are Indians the most successful?

A recent book titled The Other One Percent: Indians in America bySanjoy Chakravorty, Devesh Kapur and Nirvikar Singh found some answers.

Singh hypothesises that “There is no ‘secret sauce’. There are no peculiarly Indian cultural traits (that make Indian Americans more successful than others)…. They came very carefully selected. They were not coming from poverty. The simplest policy prescription may be this: Make sure everyone has access to education,” he told the media.

The immigration of Indian Americans really began in 1965 when the US lifted caps it had placed on immigrants from some countries. Since then, the visa process has favoured the entry of mostly upper class, educated Indians, their close relatives, students with very high scores and skilled workers.

Summarising why Indians succeed in America

They are a migrant group with access to educational resources and having a stable financial background. Without these two, migrants generally stay at lower levels of income and influence.

You have not seen the best yet!

80 per cent of second-generation Indian Americans are under the age of 25 years. This means their political influence and commercial success is likely to grow further in the years and decades to come. The Indian American population is expected to almost double to 2 per cent of the US population by 2030. They are mostly concentrated in New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, California and Texas.

Indians now standing out in public service

President Biden has appointed significant numbers of Indian Americans to his team – Uzra Zeya, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, State Department; Mala Adiga, Policy Director to Dr Jill Biden; Aisha Shah, Partnership Manager, White House Office of Digital Strategy; Sameera Fazili, Deputy Director, US National Economic Council (NEC); Sumona Guha: Senior Director for South Asia at the National Security Council, White House; and Sabrina Singh: Deputy Press Secretary, Vice President White House.

In addition, two Indian Americans, Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal, have already ruled states such as Louisiana and South Carolina as governors.

The story of Indian Americans is amazing right now – and will continue to grow.

Vishal Kampani, JM Financial, applauds the Indian budget

Commenting on the recent Indian Budget, Vishal Kampani, Managing Director, JM Financial Group, said “the Finance Minister has laid the foundation for next-generation growth and deserves a big round of applause.”

The Union Budget 2021-22 presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday has laid out the road map for India to achieve sustainable growth in the years to come by delivering on key expectations. By choosing growth imperatives over fiscal puritanism, the FM has clearly indicated where the government’s focus and priorities rightly lie.

Read more at:

https://www.fortuneindia.com/macro/budget-to-propel-growth-but-implementation-is-the-key/105141

India’s “vaccine diplomacy” a template for the region

We have heard about soft power diplomacy and hard diplomacy, but India is showing another way through “vaccine diplomacy”. It could show Australia and other Indo-Pacific Region countries an alternative diplomacy template.

Right now, Australia is too often the first country to call others out, it is known for “hard talking diplomacy” (sometimes at great cost such as the recent trade dispute with China) and Australia is also known predominately as a close ally of the United States of America. These are not positions that find much favour in a rapidly changing region.

How has India created an alternative diplomacy?

First, India accepts global realities, such as the future dominance of China and the USA, so it tries to find the right niche or niches for itself. It has worked hard to develop and promote a reliable reputation in global pharmaceuticals, to the point it is more trusted in this area of production than Russia or China. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called India’s vaccine manufacturing capacity the “best asset in the world.”

Second, in a distinctively Indian way, India has built generosity into its diplomacy. India has already supplied more than five million vaccines to its neighbouring countries—Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar—as well as additional quantities to other emerging economies like Brazil. This Vaccine Maitri (Vaccine Friendship) will not be forgotten by the people of those countries.

To put this generosity in context, India is the worst affected by Covid19 in terms of numbers and needs to vaccinate 700 million people at home.

Third, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a strong advocate of business and of building transparency and trust across business activities. This, in part, has led to the development of a globally competitive pharmaceutical and biotech industry in India. The “vaccine diplomacy” is built on this foundation of strong private industry.

Part of the success of India’s pharmaceutical industry is an almost accidental outcome of long-term price controls in their domestic markets which forced the pharmaceutical sector into world markets, thereby becoming more competitive with higher quality.  

It is one thing to have a strong pharmaceutical sector – it is quite another creative step to use “vaccine diplomacy” as India seeks to define its niche in the modern world.

For countries that struggle with the subtleties required in diplomacy, India has created a template – accept the reality of global power, find your niche and use “out of the square” thinking such as generosity to reinforce that niche.

Australia Day honours for Robert Johanson – still changing relations of India and Australia for the better

Below (L-R) Robert Johanson, Chairman Bendigo Bank and Australian Friends of Asha Slums; Dr Kiran Martin; Anne Rathbone, Owner of Yering Station Winery, and Harish Rao from Friends of Asha Australia

Robert Johanson AO was honoured in the Australia Day honours by appointment as an Officer of the Order of Australia. This recognises his distinguished service to the banking sector, to relations between Australia and India, and to tertiary education governance and financial administration.  
Robert has brought respect for all and considered commentary to his many roles and especially as Chair of the Australia India Institute – from 2010 to 2019.   He served for 31 years on the board of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, 13 of which were as Chair of the bank’s board.
 
Robert was also Deputy Chancellor of University of Melbourne from 2007 to 2017.   He has also been the Chair of the Board of the Australia India Institute in Delhi since its inception in 2015, a role which thankfully he continues to hold – this continues his relationship with India and ongoing support of Australia India connections. 
 
Robert has a strong personal commitment to making a difference for those in need and has served as the Chair of the Australian Friends of Asha, the Australian branch of Asha India. Asha is a charitable organisation created by Dr Kiran Martin in 1988 which works with people in India residing in slums and benefiting more than 700,000 people from over 91 slum colonies of Delhi. Australian Friends of Asha was launched by former Governor of Victoria The Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC in November 2012 and aims to provide support to Asha and promulgate its work throughout Australia.

Gandhi exhorted us to “be the change you want to see in the world” and Robert has contributed more than any other to the positive change in the relationship between Australia and India.  
Below is Robert Johanson with Mahinder Shrivas who thanks to Asha went from a Delhi slum to Trinity College at Melbourne University

Will your “reset” include new approaches to India?

Australia and India have never been closer. The last year has seen major advances in strategic and defence engagement and cooperation.

Now, as business and organisations reset, does India play a role in your future plans?

Growth in India is outstanding and assured – largely because of a young population boosting domestic demand.

It is a complex and very different market, but one which rewards the right entry strategy and long term engagement plans.

Time for India to be part of your reset?

Business and investment can ride the wave of closer relations between India and Australia

Yesterday was both Indian Republic Day and Australia Day – and in these times the closeness of the two countries makes us more aware of what we have in common.

Australia’s Prime Minister Morrison wrote yesterday that: “While, for now, our people are separated, the truth is that Australia and India are closer than we have ever been. Our progress is unchecked. We’ve taken huge strides in the last year, and, despite its enormous hardship and loss, 2020 will be remembered as a pivotal moment in our friendship.”

Business and investment can become the next step in the “huge strides” in the friendship of the two great democracies.

India’s growth and demand right now means that every sector of Australian business should have an “India strategy” and become part of this amazing growth story – and the future closeness of the two countries.

Here is the link to his article:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/what-we-have-in-common-wonderful-coincidence-of-republic-day-and-australia-day-indicates-our-natural-partnership/