Country & Regional Focus
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Taking Responsibility for India’s Future

by Helen Sanders, Editor

Talk of the ‘BRIC’ countries, an acronym much loved during the early noughties, is now all but dead. Indeed, it seems incongruous, even absurd to try to generalise about four countries whose cultures, politics and economies are so different. With its newly awarded second place on the economic leader-board, China now tends to dominate discussions on economic growth in major ‘emerging’ economies. Indeed, were it not for the significant imbalances that remain, there is little justification for referring to China in this way.What the focus on China tends to obscure, however, is the largely untapped potential that exists in India. With the world’s second largest population (four times greater than the United States) and the seventh fastest growing economy in the world, it would be a travesty for multinational corporations to ignore India, or to sideline the country by giving preference to its eastern neighbour.

Comparisons with China 

Despite ‘BRIC’ becoming an anachronism, India is still frequently compared to China, and this comparison is often unfavourable. I visited India for the first time late last year from China. Based on my brief and subjective experience, I can only conclude that anyone trying to make such a comparison has never been to both countries. Perhaps the only common factors I would identify are the huge numbers of people, bicycles and cars. Beyond that, two countries could hardly be more different. India was, for me, a country dominated by contrasts: faded colonial buildings and dirty streets juxtaposed with colourful decorations and clothing; the happiest, friendliest people I have ever met enduring grinding poverty; enthusiasm and motivation combined with a consciousness of community responsibility. India undoubtedly lacks the planned approach to infrastructure and urban development that China has witnessed over the past 20 years, but just because its growth has been a little slower, and perhaps more haphazard than that of China, the opportunities should not be underestimated. 

Positive signs

There are a number of elements that are contributing to a very bright future for India. Dinesh Khanna, Regional Head of Transaction Banking, South Asia, Standard Chartered Bank summarises some of the factors that are continuing to fuel growth in the country,