The promise called India

The promise called India
The promise called India

India crossed the $300 billion mark at a time when the global economic slowdown has had a dampening impact. This speaks volumes of the opportunity India as an investment destination has to offer and how timely market reforms are creating a positive ecosystem for the international investor. The government of India has taken up a series of measures to improve Ease of Doing Business in the country. The emphasis has been on simplification and rationalisation of the existing rules and introduction of information technology to make governance more efficient and effective. Today the international investor is all ears to the India story as never before. Almost every decision-making meeting globally has India on its agenda. Government Initiatives such as Digital India, Skill India, Startup India and Smart Cities is, generating the much-needed momentum that is seeing global investments and partnerships to make the most of this opportunity. Evidence to this excitement are the results of such flagship programmes that have already started to emerge with large-scale commitments being made by both domestic as well as foreign investors. In fact, India received its highest ever FDI inflows of $55.7 billion in 2015-16. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flagship programme “Make in India” plans to convert India's manufacturing sector into the engine of growth for the economy. India has all the necessary resources: technology, manpower, markets and most importantly, a will to meet this objective. 'Make in India' is not only setting new standards of quality in Indian manufacturing but also seen as a source of employment generation for the youth of our country. It represents an attitudinal shift in how India relates to investors: not as a permit-issuing authority, but as a business partner. The introduction of Initiatives such as Invest India has only accentuated the positive environment that India has to offer to an international investor. Invest India is the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency and is the first point of reference for investors looking to enter India. The experts guide investors through their entire investment lifecycle, providing them both sector and state specific inputs. It is also the investors' voice to the central and state governments to ease the investment process. Invest India also houses the Start-up India Hub, the single point of contact for the entire start-up ecosystem. It connects start-ups to relevant stakeholders in the central and State governments, Indian and foreign VCs, angel networks, incubators and more. More than a nodal agency, Start-up India Hub guides start-ups through their lifecycle - from obtaining financing to expansion. Invest India is the recent winner of UNCTAD Investment Promotion Award 2016 for being one the best investment promotion agencies.

Creation of a single economic union GST [Goods & Services Tax], a significant step towards indirect tax reforms is the harbinger of the opera to make India one of the most conducive places to do business globally. Manifold taxes, with differential rates in different states, created hurdles for the smooth conduct of business and added costs at every stage, frustrating foreign investors. Foreign investment decisions and the expected rate of return from projects often suffered due to these distortions, occasionally even deterring fresh investment plans. The successful implementation of GST will reverse this, helping to attract new investments especially from global value chains which often aggregate inputs from different constituencies. The manufacturing sector, in particular, is expected to be a big beneficiary of GST as the economic system becomes more competitive. Also since GST will be aligned with an information technology platform; the tax payment system would also be streamlined. The new tax system is expected to become a standardised, and a workable format. Seeing it from a macro level we can safely believe that GST heralds several other reforms that the government of India is spearheading, and they're all converging to make India a lucrative investment option for foreign investors. Collaboration in diversity The making of public policy for a country as large, populous and diverse as India is intrinsically a more complex task than in a smaller political unit. Measured by economic growth or attainment of human development objectives. There can, of course, be valid disagreements as to what is the "right" policy in a given sector, in a given situation. It can be argued that merely because there are errors, changes or postponements in policies, one cannot conclude that policy-making suffers from weakness. Success is often the result of trial and error. Disagreements, often strong ones, are common and, in a democratic society, both inevitable and healthy. Vigorous debate prior to policy-making and adaptation in response to debate is good, not bad. A classic example of this collaborative effort could be the Ease of Doing Business ranking. The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, with support from World Bank group and KPMG, had carried out an assessment framework, consisting 340-point action plan with states, capturing the implementation status of various factors enabling ease of doing business. The rankings, released in 2016, allow states to learn from one another and replicate success stories, thereby rapidly improving the regulatory environment for business nationwide. Conclusion India reaching an FDI inflow of $300 billion is only tip of the iceberg that is indicative of the India Investment success story. With the efforts that are on behind the scenes to make India the most favourable investment destination, it is safe to say that we are in the midst of very exciting times as the scale and opportunities of investing across varied possibilities are bringing forth stronger propositions like never before for the international investor. These are supplemented by strong reforms that the current government has put in place to create a conducive investment environment.

Adarsh Sharma is Assistant Vice-President, Media & Content, at Invest India, the country's leading invest promotion agency globally.

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