The convention brought together business leaders and government officials to review the progress of reforms spearheaded by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make India a leading centre for global business.
Here are our five takeaways from this dynamic event:
India: A shining star of the BRICS
Despite a diverse set of challenges there is a new sense of urgency and excitement in India to match delivery with expectations. Calling for clear policies from the government to make doing business easier, ICC Vice-Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal described India as the “shining star” of the BRICS economy with a projected growth of 7.8% in 2015 that makes it one of the only countries likely to deliver on G20 commitments to accelerate global growth through to 2018.
Trade for jobs and growth
Flexible and stable policies together with the rule of law were cited consistently as key factors for India to attract investment, create jobs and bring the cost of capital down. Addressing the over 400 convention participants, ICC Chairman Terry McGraw also called for the swift ratification and implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement which he said had significant potential to boost Indian competitiveness. “India has lost its sheen, we now have a mandate for economic change,” said Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley.
Bridging the digital divide
In a country with an Internet penetration rate that is second only to that of China, Indians are using digital technology for their businesses and for their empowerment. These were the words of Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad who outlined how Narendra Modi’s Digital India initiative was aiming to realize India’s prospects through the use of technology. During the session, Facebook’s Kevin Martin called for flexible policies that don’t limit innovation to keep pace with changes and bring the benefits of the digital revolution to more Indians.
ICC Executive Board member Cherie Nursalim highlighted how information and communication technologies and the Internet also had the potential to advance every single one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Skills, skills, skills
“A job changes a life in the way subsidies never can,” said Manish Sabharwal, CEO of TeamLease Services.
In a dynamic discussion on the architechure for skills development, Indian Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy, said that India could not continue to shine without skills development. A mindshift away from the notion that skills are for the country’s school dropouts, making it easier to create training institutions, recognized certification, and shifts in labour laws to attract employment were all identified as areas that would contribute to reducing the skills gap.
Business and government working together
“Because we are a pro-poor government, we are a pro-market government,” said Union Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha. Business and governments must work together to advance India on its path to prosperity he told participants. “We believe in empowerment rather than entitlement. We believe in minimum government and maximum governance.”
Vijay Thadani, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of NIIT aptly summed up business sentiment when he said. “Business wants to put its best foot forward to work with governments and open doors.”