India On The Move

India On The Move

In a 2004 report, global merchant banking firm Goldman Sachs said that in 30 years the Indian economy could become the third largest in the world after the US and China. India, the Goldman Sachs report said, 'has the potential to show the fastest growth over the next 30 and 50 years'. It described India as a potentially bigger growth story than China over the long run.

The perception of India in the West as a land of extreme poverty, bungling bureaucracy and poor infrastructure is fast changing. They are waking up to the other India, the one that is, like Alexander the Great, sighing for new worlds to conquer. It is today widely recognized as the knowledge capital of the world.

This turn of fortunes is not surprising for a country that boasts one of the earliest civilizations known to man. India was also home to Aryabhatta, the inventor of zero. It was in India that Takshashila, the world's first university, flourished.

It was the great scientist, Albert Einstein, who summed up India's contribution to the world succinctly: "We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made."

If India's past is rich, its future is promising.

In February 2005, the renowned London-based magazine New Scientist carried a series of reports on the theme, 'India: the Next Knowledge Superpower'. It wasn't the first to do so, and it certainly won't be the last. Article after article continue to appear in the world press, spreading the word about Indian achievements. In fact, many pundits feel that India will become one of the world's largest economies in the next 25 years, surpassing China in growth.

Anyone making this kind of projection in 1991, when India was on the verge of bankruptcy, would have been a target of ridicule. In some ways, the 1991 crisis was just what the doctor ordered for the ailing Indian economy. It forced the government to liberalise the economy and open it to domestic and foreign competition.

And what a difference it made. Today, India is the fourth largest economy (with a GDP of $3 trillion) in terms of purchasing power parity after USA, China and Japan, and is expected to move to No. 3 position in the next decade. Its foreign exchange reserves stand at more than $130 billion. It's got a high domestic savings rate of 25% and GDP grew by 5.5% a year during the past decade. It's also the largest producer of milk and tea in the world, has the largest rail network, the biggest postal network.

Every year, India adds another Australia to its population. But a growing number is swelling the ranks of the middle class, which is estimated to be anywhere between 150 million and 300 million today. Life has never been so good for this English-speaking, technology-savvy segment of the population. Its living standards have improved by leaps and bounds, buoyed by incomes that are growing at double-digit rates. Yesterday's luxuries have become today's necessities and no home is considered complete without a refrigerator, TV, personal computer and air-conditioner. The figures tell the story:

  • Indians are lapping up mobile phones by the truckload. By December 2005, the total number is expected to reach 100 million, from 31 million in January 2004.
  • Car sales are growing at a scorching 20 per cent rate annually, and production is expected to rise to a million a year for the next three years.
  • In 2004, 3.41 million personal computers (desktops and notebooks) were sold in India. Annual growth rates are as high as 44 per cent.

India's youthful population - 555 million people under the age of 25 years - may prove to be an asset as the country turns into an economic powerhouse. The Times of India is one of the largest English newspapers in the world today, indicating a growing familiarity with the language among Indians. The fact that every third technical worker in the world is an Indian -- there are more engineers and scientists in the city of Bangalore than in Silicon Valley -- demonstrates the country's growing technological strength.

In fact, magazines like Business World and BusinessWeek believe that India will become the R&D hub of the world in the near future. Leading the charge have been knowledge industries like information technology. Today, software companies like Infosys and Wipro have made their mark on the international scene. They're not there just because they offer cheap services, cashing in on the low standard of living in India; they've managed to become so successful because they offer services that are comparable to the best in the world.

In fact, multinational companies are making a beeline to India to make use of its growing pool of highly talented workers. One of General Electric's (GE) first and largest R&D labs is in Bangalore. The $80 million multidisciplinary centre employs 2,300 people, 60 per cent of whom have a Master's or PhD degree in science. Microsoft has set up a research centre in Bangalore to address the needs of India and other Asian markets. Engineers at Texas Instruments' Indian R&D division have already filed 225 patents.

India may also emerge as a force to reckon with in new drug research. Companies like Nicholas Piramal, Ranbaxy and Dr Reddy's Laboratories have set up research centres to develop new drugs for treating diseases like cancer and diabetes. The country today has more than 50 drug research centres, and the number is expected to grow in the near future.

Manufacturing hasn't fallen behind in the global sweepstakes. Today Hero Honda is one of the largest producers of motorcycles in the world, turning out as many as 2 million of them a year. Bharat Forge is the world's second largest forging company, with a global customer base that includes General Motors, Ford, Honda and Mitsubishi. The world leader in the development and manufacture of removable data storage media (floppy disks, CDs and DVDs) is Moser Baer, a New Delhi company. Essel Packaging produces more laminated tubes than any other country, while Micro Inks has the world's largest ink plant.

The days when customers had to wait for months to get a car delivered after they booked it is a distant memory. Indian-made cars are being exported to countries all over the world, including Europe and the US. According to industry projections, car exports are likely to touch the 1 million mark by 2010. India is also fast becoming the outsourcing hub for manufacturers. The world's top 15 automobile manufacturers source components from India.

This is the India that is changing the world, while it changes itself.

The future of manufacturing, services and technology is here. In India!

And the future of manufacturing a dhesive tapes and protective and packaging films is in Powerband.

Powerband . Where impossible is potential.

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