For leaders at Davos, India’s $5 trillion economy dream is a smokescreen.
Unless policy makers and industry leaders back home take corrective measures on a war footing, the concerns will only get stronger.
The whole talk of ‘circular economy’ is a constant theme at Davos this year. World leaders are striving to achieve sustainable economic growth that balances environment and climate to drive consumption, talent, innovation and business.
These conversations give me a sense of déjà vu – I am reminded of the Y2K period when India weathered the storm and emerged as a leader, which defined the decades ahead in Information Technology (IT) and the services sector.
It also gave a booster shot to the Indian economy with remittances from the huge workforce that got recruited by global IT firms. It opened up new industries, job opportunities, and transformed India into a global talent capital, especially in the knowledge and services sector. If history does repeat itself, India has a chapter to script in restructuring the global economic order, as the circular economy gathers momentum.
Even my business conversations at Davos are punctuated with concerns of geo-political disharmony — the single biggest concern that can wash out all the effort towards boosting the economy.
Global economic slowdown, volatile trade relations between China and the United States, trust deficit on critical future technologies like 5G, Data Privacy — are all derailing trade and growth and widening the digital divide. This is being compounded by the anxiety on European Union’s stability post-Brexit. It is a call for India to re-align its strategy and be relevant on the global socioeconomic map.
Further, the growing concern for environment and climate is a dominant theme with visionaries, climate change activists, analysts and strategists at the World Economic Forum. It is not only the future of this planet, but also the economy that will have to be sustainable. In both these areas, India has been at the forefront.
Whether we like the spotlight or not, world leaders are looking at India with the might of its 1.3 billion citizens, including 400 million millennials, as the flag bearers of socio-economic growth.
No global businessperson or political leader is willing to admit that the Indian economic growth story is in peril for long. They are aware of the strong fundamentals driving the economy. The sheer power of consumers, the availability of a skilled talent pool, and policy push are some of the levers that can put India back on a high-growth trajectory.
There should not be any doubt that India’s long-term growth process is steady, stable, diversified and resilient. However, India needs to reiterate that our fundamentals are strong and supported with transparent policies.
At Davos, the jury is still out on the $5 trillion economy dream — the bets are not on the ‘potential’, but India’s ability to get there well in time. As someone who does not like to sit on the fence, I say, we will get there – it is truly the ‘art of possible’, and what better place than Davos to learn and engage with the crème de la crème to forge the road to sustainable success.
(The author is Managing Director & CEO, Tech Mahindra)