Even as India remains under lockdown, the Indian Government is walking the extra mile to reassure foreign businesses.
The Indian government has been ahead of the curve in meeting the COVID-19 crisis head on. And even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his core team have been working on an exit strategy from the lockdown, another arm of the government, its foreign investment facilitation agency, Invest India, has been burning the midnight oil addressing queries from both foreign and Indian investors and also facilitating the acquisition of equipment critical to the fight against the coronavirus.
The Invest India portal received 1,857 queries till Day 13 of the lockdown and resolved 1,477, a success rate in excess of 79.5 per cent. The average resolution time was four hours. The maximum number of queries, expectedly, came from Maharashtra, Gujarat - the two most industrialised states in the country - and Haryana. The movement of workers from their places of work to their native places made the biggest news headlines over the first few days of the lockdown. Not surprisingly, this issue - and the movement of critical personnel within cities - dominated the list of queries Invest India was bombarded with.
Despite the national lockdown, the Invest India portal was active 24/7 responding to and resolving queries from investors across the world and across different time zones. The queries keeping coming at every hour of the day - with about two-thirds of all questions flooding in between noon and 11 pm.
Invest India helped large multinational companies such as MasterCard and AstraZeneca obtain passes for their employees and helped keep their services ticking even as the rest of the country was in total lockdown mode.
Over this period, India's investment facilitation agency has reached out to 12 foreign missions - the UK, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan, Russia, Sweden, Denmark and South Korea - for obtaining best practices and a list of suppliers of essential medical facilities. It also helped secure donations of 30,000 test kits for the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) through the Indian High Commission in Singapore and helped the government source critical medical equipment by liaising with Indian missions in capitals around the world.
Invest India also held a series of discussions with key stakeholders such as American companies and the United States India Business Council (USIBC), Swedish companies among others. It helped resolve logistics issues and also sorted out the inclusion of certain essential products and services under the exemption list with potential for contribution to medical equipment demand through local manufacturing.
It's Start-Up Challenge on finding solutions to the COVID-19 crisis received 454 applications from 22 states. The maximum applications received are on movement tracking, geofencing, personnel protective equipment and large area sanitisation.
It wasn't only businessmen who Invest India responded to. Take the case of 12-year-old Roshita Banerjee, a stroke-paralytic suffering from Moyamoya, a rare blood vessel disorder, who urgently needed Peptamen, a nutritionally-complete peptide-based formula specifically designed for people who cannot digest or absorb nutrients from conventional foods, in Indore.
This item was not available anywhere in Madhya Pradesh. With just one packet left that would last her five days, it was a race against time.
Invest India worked tirelessly, with Delhivery and Blue Dart, to ensure that the package reached her all the way from Ahmedabad in time.
So, even as the rest of the country remains under lockdown, for very good reason, the Government of India is walking the extra mile to reassure businesses that India has not forgotten its promise of rolling out and maintaining the proverbial red carpet for foreign investors.