#February 2017, #The Americas, #India-US, #December 2017

There are not too many countries towards whom the new United States President, Donald Trump, has shown a consistently friendly demeanour. India is one of them.

As Trump told Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his most recent phone conversation to New Delhi, he saw India as a “true friend”. India is seen, strategically, as a kindred spirit by President Trump and his team.

#February 2017, #India & China, #December 2017, #India & The World

Asian equations, specially between the two giant economies of China and India will be in focus with the installation of Donald Trump as the 45th US president.

Trump’s belligerent ‘America First’ foreign and commercial policy stance, will in all likelihood, force China to curb its manufactured goods exports to the US, with whom it has a whopping and patently unsustainable trade surplus of nearly half a trillion dollars! It is unlikely that even US MNCs, which have huge export bases in China, could prevail upon Trump to not push back imports from China. This should push Chinese exporters to look for alternate markets during the next five to 10 years, during which China completes its planned switch to greater reliance on domestic consumption. India, with its growing and potentially large domestic markets and long track record of trade deficits, would offer a tempting opportunity for Chinese exporters looking to divert their exports and utilising their installed capacities.

#Putting it in context, #April 2017

It may be time to anoint New Delhi as a hub for a reimagined Commonwealth, writes India Inc. CEO Manoj Ladwa.

This week the Commonwealth Secretariat has launched a report which claims that if the UK and India sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), this could boost bilateral trade by a staggering 26 per cent. I am somewhat sceptical about the speed at which an FTA could be agreed and the figures. But nonetheless any moves in this direction is positive. It is also here that the larger canvas of the Commonwealth could provide a fillip to a much more meaningful UK-India relationship of the future. There are, however, some practical and emotional hurdles to overcome before we get there.

For instance, India has been Independent for 70 years but even now some quarters in the country are still very prickly when it comes to discussions on the colonial era and India’s relations with the UK. Fortunately, such mindsets are fast becoming a thing of the past as the post-Cold War, post-9/11, post-Brexit world gets set for the next big challenges.

As one of the former colonies that has, especially with the rise of Modi – India’s first Prime Minister to be born after India’s independence – made a decisive break with the past, India has in my view everything to gain and very little, if anything, to lose from this approach. The Commonwealth could be one such institution that can become a vehicle to drive large parts of the world into the 21st century.

Though there is an urgent need to reimagine it, not as Empire 2.0 as some misguided apologists for the past have done in Britain but as a modern, forward-looking trade bloc that can help its members navigate through the choppy and highly complex waters of the global economy.

I have consistently argued that the UK has to do much of the heavy lifting following Brexit. This may be a good time to put its considerable global heft and prestige behind the move to reform and reinvigorate the Commonwealth and reimagine it as a global trading platform fit for the 21st century and beyond. It is for Her Majesty’s government to convince India, by far the largest Commonwealth member, to become its partner in the process. It is the world’s fastest growing major economy and clearly the nation to watch out for in this century. But over the years, India has viewed the Commonwealth with less than full enthusiasm.

Today, though, the world is a different place. In the era of Donald Trump and with winds of isolationism gathering pace in some Western democracies, India’s global aspirations and its far-sighted and global minded leader Narendra Modi stand out as a bellwether in the global community.

Given his penchant for getting things done and for carrying other countries along – as he did with the International Solar Alliance – the place to start would be New Delhi.

To re-imagine the Commonwealth, the following steps need to be taken:

  • Recognition of a rebalancing and redistribution of power within the Commonwealth – not just India, but in key countries like Nigeria, Australia, Canada, Singapore and the East African economies
  • Structural reform with some stronger weightage placed on India from an administrative perspective
  • Anoint New Delhi as the hub or head office of the Commonwealth trading bloc
  • Re-imagining the shared values and shared aspirations on the lines of Modi’s inclusive Sabka Ka Saath, Sabka Vikas credo as large swathes of the Commonwealth remain impoverished
  • The fight against poverty must take centre-stage, not through lecturing but real programmes, such as the export of the Jan Dhan Yojana, India’s highly successful financial inclusion scheme.

Frankly, however, the often referred to issue in the corridors of Lutyens Delhi remains the future role of British monarchy. Having the Queen as the non-political ceremonial head of the Commonwealth has historically served it well, no doubt. And, in my view it is probably not as big an issue as some make it out to be, but the relationship between Prince Charles and Modi will play an important role in the emergence of the Commonwealth in the coming decades. The fact that the two men, who will find they have a lot in common, have not yet met, is one thing that needs to be rectified, and rectified quick.

The advantages are obvious and massive – a readymade, English speaking bloc straddling every continent of the world, with common or similar legal and other systems, a combined GDP of $10.4 trillion or 14 per cent of global GDP and a population of 2.4 billion or a third of the world.

The opportunity beckons. Does Mrs May’s government have the nimbleness to pick up the threads and weave it into a fabric?

That’s the 10-billion-dollar question.

Manoj Ladwa is the founder of India Inc. and chief executive of MLS Chase Group @manojladwa

#August 2017, #Other Highlights

Indian companies have marked out a significant presence in the large and prosperous Nigerian market. This presence will grow further as India’s public sector oil majors are expected to invest up to $15 billion in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

A vast majority of Indians are not aware that Nigeria is an economic powerhouse whose citizens, on average, earn $2,123 per year, 20 per cent more than India’s per capita income of $1,850.

#2016, #Yearend 2016, #World View

Indian companies are collectively the third largest foreign investor in the UK and the largest employer in its manufacturing sector. Then, Indian IT companies employ about 100,000 US citizens in that country. No wonder countries across the world are inviting Indian companies to invest in them and are laying out the red carpet for them.

Indians have seen senior government functionaries from the Prime Minister downwards hard selling India as a an ideal destination for FDI from the West, China, Japan, South Korea and the ASEAN. But even as the PM and his council of ministers woo foreign investments, the developed countries of the West as well as many others are actively courting the movers and shakers of India Inc to invest in their countries.

#2016, #Yearend 2016, #World View

Of all the foreign policy challenges facing the Modi government, the one on how to deal with China is, arguably, the most difficult and vexed problem.

China’s rise to the top league of the world’s leading nations has been accompanied by increasing muscle flexing towards it neighbours, with many of which it has unresolved border problems.

#April 2017, #UK/Europe

As the number of Indian students coming to study at UK universities continues to register a drop, a new report reveals just what Britain stands to lose.

International students coming to study at UK universities are worth over 25 billion pounds to the British economy, found new research released today.

The latest analysis titled ‘The Economic Impact of International Students’, conducted for representative organisation Universities UK by Oxford Economics, shows that in 2014-15 spending by international students supported 206,600 jobs in university towns and cities across the UK.

#2016, #Yearend 2016, #World View

The New Year should mark a period of inward reflection for one of India’s truly global conglomerates – the Tata Group.

What is common between Walmart, Apple, Google, General Electric, Volkswagen, HSBC and the Tata Group? These are all highly successful profitable companies or conglomerates that have branched out from their home countries to almost every corner of the world.

#2016, #Yearend 2016, #Sector Focus

As India looks set to increase its GDP fivefold, to about $10 trillion, by 2040, it is axiomatic that the country’s energy demand will rise in tandem.

India recently took a small first step towards ensuring its energy security by commissioning three underground storage units of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Project with a combined capacity of 5.33 million metric tonnes of crude.