Despite being late, Keralites begin their innings

At least one alliance packed in their baggage

This is the first part of ‘One Mission, Two bodies.’ The second by India New Zealand Business Council appears in this Section.

Nathan Smith – 

Indian technology entrepreneurs like what they see in New Zealand and think it’s time for robust business alliances between businesses in the two countries.

A group of technology entrepreneurs from the South Indian state of Kerala visited New Zealand last month and were hosted by the newly formed Indian Trade Alliance (ITA) to sound out interest in building greater business relationships with Indian companies.

ITA aims to promote trade and investment between New Zealand and India and actively pursue closer economic ties between the two nations.

A revelation

Deputy Head of the delegation Binu Jacob, said that it was a revelation to see what New Zealand had to offer in terms of opportunity to work together.

Mr Jacob is Managing Director of global IT product and services company Experion operating in the US, Europe and Australia. He said that he was keen to seek business opportunities in New Zealand.

Kaushal & Associates Managing Director Sunil Kaushal said that the interest is part of the government’s ‘long-term’ business campaign.

“I don’t believe India is an emerging market. This is the re-emergence of India. (India’s Prime Minister Narendra) Modi realises that his country has to be brought into the 21st century but he is not reforming the economy, it is more of a modernisation. And that should start at a state level,” he said.

Great potential

P H Kurian, Kerala State Principal Secretary for Industries and Information Technology headed the delegation. Drawing parallels between his state and New Zealand, Mr Kurian said that there was great potential for the two to cooperate in the field of information and communication technologies and other service industries like education, culture and tourism.

“Kerala, like New Zealand, has a vibrant Small and Medium Enterprise sector,” he said.

Mr Kurian said he was pleased to see New Zealand’s high-profile involvement in the event, which had MPs Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (National) and Mahesh Bindra (New Zealand First) in attendance, along with chief executives and senior officials of several New Zealand organisations looking to establish or build their existing business relationships in India.

“Five years ago, when you looked at the Indian community in Auckland, it seemed incredibly inward looking. It was a highly committed community, hardworking, law abiding but inward looking. Now the Indian community in Auckland just blossomed. I feel same thing is true about India,” ITA Deputy Chairman Dr Richard Worth said.

Push from the top

This blossoming of India is part of a concerted effort from business-friendly Modi to build the country into a modern economy.

After more a year in office, even with a super-majority in the Indian parliament, Mr Modi has struggled to register significant advances in his broader efforts to modernise the country. Nevertheless, some reforms are slowly emerging, including in the promising technology sectors.

For Web-Business Council opens fire- Sunil KaushalMr Kaushal said that it is no surprise Indian businesses are interested in partnering with New Zealand technology companies. The drive to increasingly look outwards from India comes from the top of its government.

“Mr Modi is building up digital India. But if Indians increasingly operate online, the correct infrastructure needs to exist, and there are still many gaps. Mr Modi realises that India has to become a modern economy but it’s a long term strategy. He has asked investors and the Indian public to trust him for 10 years, which may be how long it takes to change,” Mr Kaushal said.

Economic Reforms

Despite being late-The NBR MastheadSince taking office in May 2014, Mr Modi has attempted to invigorate the Indian economy by focusing on reforms in manufacturing and in rural, agricultural sectors.

His strategies require heavy investment in municipal infrastructure to both foster any innovation and entice foreign investors.

The Indian leader swept to power with expectations of a ‘Modi Miracle’ and although his election did temporarily boost the Indian economy (helped along by low global energy prices), the positive sentiments have cooled in the latter half of 2015 as traditional political infighting and obstacles re-emerge.

“Mr Modi knows India will have its day,” Mr Kaushal said.

“But it cannot have it forever. Mr Modi is modernising and knows that the economy’s real power is in the vast amounts of human capital. I wouldn’t be surprised if cheap labour eventually is replaced by talented labour. He wants to bring that to the world, which is why he’s pushing for companies to come and base themselves in India,” he said.

Rising Middle Class

As the amount of worker talent grows in India, Mr Kaushal expects a rise in the number of Indians in the middle class. This could have an effect of creating a consumer market for electronics and other high-end products, as well as a producer market.

Both of these will be taken into account in considering the potential for alliances between Indian and New Zealand businesses.

“The mobile phone industry in India is in its heyday. It is common for people to have three of four phones because mobile data is cheap. This is important because investors want the luxuries that they would get back home, such as cars, infrastructure and good offices,” he said.

Nathan Smith is a Reporter at the National Business Review. The above article appeared in the Publication on October 30, 2015 and reproduced here with their permission. Copyright NBR © 2015

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