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A Postcard From…India: Smell the confidence

IN May of this year, the world’s largest democracy went to the polls to vote for a new government.

A record-breaking turnout was reported. The Indian citizen voted for change, hope and progress. After almost 25 years, the people of India gave a decisive mandate to a single party (and almost a single individual) Mr. Narendra Modi, the head of right wing, Bharitya Janta Party (BJP)

On my trip to India, while leading a trade delegation organised by the London Mayor’s office early last month, I could smell the confidence, pride and optimism in the air. Though not visible on the ground or in numbers yet, the change in momentum is evident. Heading an almost presidential form of government, Modi has caught the imagination of Indians and the world. Starting with a hardnosed, no nonsense approach towards the administration, he has galvanised the bureaucracy and his own ministry into action. He is smartly concentrating on plucking low hanging policy fruits like energy prices, FDI liberalization in defense, insurance, real estate etc., to make a clear statement of intent. Power & Coal sector reforms; GST & interest rate reduction are clearly projected on the visible horizon.

Flights in and out of India are no longer just full of holiday travelers. Five star business hotels in Delhi & Mumbai are improving occupancy & re-positioning for more business travelers than ever before. Coffee shops are full of on-the-move meetings. Professional services firms – Law & Accounting, are buzzing with M&A and India entry discussions. BDO India, our network member firm in India, has doubled office capacity in Mumbai & Pune and has its partner strength navigating advisory solutions to national and global clients.

Industry sectors are indicating upward graphs amongst which infrastructure, health care, education, tourism, textiles, IT & auto ancillaries are the sectors to look out for. Some of the latest catch phrases in India are “smart cities”, “industrial corridors” and “Make in India” – the campaigns initiated and rolled out in a quest for a transforming nation.

Alongside me, the trade delegation – a group of corporates from different sectors exploring the India business landscape for potential entry/expansion opportunities, sensed an outlook towards the fiscal, monetary, administrative reforms unfurling in India with this new change. The Corporates, all defined as SMEs and having an annual turnover of less than £50 million and fewer than 250 employees, came from sectors such as construction, software and computer services, education and training, renewable energy and creative and media.

One of the delegates, a BDO UK managed client, Aspen Pumps said: “As an SME looking for opportunities in international markets, Aspen Pumps was delighted to be chosen to be part of the delegation that went to Mumbai for the Indian marketing and strategy programme. The programme was immensely helpful in expanding my understanding of how to penetrate the market and the business opportunities in India. The event was extremely well organised and well put together and I commend the organisers for the structured and well planned agenda throughout the trip. I look forward to putting my new found knowledge to good use in our Indian marketing strategy and look forward to reporting back on our continued expansion in this growing economy.”

BDO UK envisages to play the role of this pivotal catalyst easing India entry from an overall perspective, while our India member firm would take up the thread to not only help establish but aid in the growth of business operations in the homeland.

India Today: The intensity is there. The intent is serious. Capitalising on the momentum is the clear priority.

Arbinder Chatwal is an audit directors at BDO

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