Doing Business in an Emergent India – 4

Trends Shaping India’s Business Environment

Hope Quick look at Economics, Globalization & Cultural Context, Leadership in an Indian Context  gave you a flavour of what it means to do business in an emergent India. In the last part of the series Doing business in an emergent India we wrap up with a look at some of the emerging trends.

India is well on its way to becoming the most populous nation in the world by 2050. It can be a debilitating factor or a huge opportunity based on how our economic and technological growth shapes up. An aggressive North and a progressive South are shaping the country’s economy and wealth.

There has been a steady growth in focus on Automation and Technology as global businesses slowly withdraw the outsourcing trend which was dominant in the past decade. These are in all likelihood going to be the strongest growth areas in India.


On an Entrepreneurial front, Bangalore has emerged as one of the largest entrepreneurial hub outside of silicon valley. Touted as the World’s 2nd fastest growing startup ecosystem, it not only boasts of the youngest entrepreneurs with an average age of 28.5 compared to silicon valley’s 36.5 but is also one of the only 2 Asian cities that feature in the Top 20

Source: Huffington post: 2015

From a Business perspective, the strongest work ethics can be seen in family businesses which is also the fastest growing sector in India. 15 of the top 20 business groups in 2016 are family owned.

They generated a revenue worth Rs 18lakh crore in FY2016 accountingfor 84% of the combined assets of the top 20.

Women in business

Though there is room for lot more representation, women are making rapid strides and taking on positions of eminence in diverse fields. The National Stock Exchange, Apollo Healthcare, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Biocon, IBM, Accenture, HCL Corp, Britannia, The State Bank of India, ICICI BANK, Lupin, LIC of India, VIP, Hindustan Unilever are some of the companies that have either a woman CEO or an MD at the helm. The glass ceiling does not seem to exist for these enterprising women.

Indians respond with warmth, respect and courtesy and this reflects in global relationships as well. Family, religion, festivals, politics, cricket and Bollywood are at the core of its social life and they spill over into business as well. Most of the mega budget marketing is usually centered around these pillars. On a flip side, saying “No” outright affords deep challenge to an average Indian and this plays up to the detriment of a project timeline or a business. A “maybe” in India must be understood as a “No” most of the times.

A conversation on doing business in emergent India is incomplete without a reference to the rising force in the Indian working population, the Millennials. They would completely take charge of Indian business in the next 5-10 years and that definitely calls for a more nuanced understanding of them. At the last count India has a millennial.population of 700m, 65% of whom are below 35 and 50% below 25. The average age of an Indian by 2020 would be 29years. Highly entrepreneurial and confident, 65% of them favor jobs in Technology, Media or Telecommunications. With global aspirations, they are highly ambitious with little patience to get to the top.

In his book The Millennials: Exploring the World of the Largest Living Generation HR professional, Subramanian S. Kalpathi, puts up a case for the Millennials when he observes ,”It  is true that millennials can be obsessed with themselves. At the same time their social consciousness provides an opportunity to engage them in organisational pursuits. The key is to identify a higher purpose for the organisation with which the millennials can identify. For example, Teach for India’s vision of “Each One, Teach One” has had a huge buy in amongst the youths many of whom give lucrative careers abroad to be involved in this mission.’

In Imagining India, Nandan Nilekani forecast that Indians growing up in post-liberalization India would be free of the legacy of the past and forge new paths. That definitely seems to be holding good. With none of the colonial hangover, they are confident, sometimes to the point of arrogance and synced in to where growth is.

True, doing business in India is almost like doing business with over 30 countries. There are huge challenges but for those who dare, the opportunities are many times over. Appreciating India’s strength as a storehouse of talent and innovation and a sound understanding of its social, cultural & management practices would be crucial for developing a lasting and fulfilling business in India.