Tuesday, 31 January 2012


When I return to India I am always amazed at just how much is happening. There is no such thing as a slow news day, being in India is always exciting.

Right now India is growing and is going to continue growing at about 7%. The RBI Governor is equally confident that inflation will slow over the course of the year. But it is the businesses that are driving India’s growth, new and young Entrepreneurs, IPOs and numerous mergers and acquisitions are keeping the Economy moving. However, big business continues to worry about the cost of borrowing and likely power shortages and the delays in policy decisions that can make this worse. On a separate note, one of the things Indian business can be proud of is the number of women in high level positions, particularly in the Banking and financial services sector, many other countries are still striving to accomplish this.

In my view there are 2 issues haunting India, poverty and the lack of a perceived solution.

India is blessed with many self motivated individuals that are willing to dedicate their time and money to changing the lives of the poorest in society. However despite successful grass route initiatives a large scale political solution to poverty seems a long way off. There is lots of political and social debate but the state of politics at the moment is not helping with quick decision making or long term solutions.

Similarly in the field of Anti-Corruption, there is a strong civil society lead campaign to make democracy more participatory and to help reduce corruption by attracting more able candidates. Again this is being driven by successful individuals including NRIs rather than the political classes.

My final observation, the more I travel in India the more impressed I am at how unimportant caste and religion are becoming across society. They no longer play a role in most of the interactions you have in both the Cities and rural areas. However in political discussions and across the media there is a huge amount of time dedicated to it. I do wonder if this energy was spent on the wider poverty issue there might be more progress.

None the less, India is still a truly vibrant and emerging nation that is a beacon for democracy and economic growth.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Commonwealth Growth and the UK

2012 has started with the same economic uncertainty that 2011 ended with and the UK needs to look for Partners around the world that are growing fast that can supplement the UKs existing relationships in Europe and US. The Commonwealth’s emerging markets are the obvious choice, our pre-existing relationships make doing business together easier and similar institutions and business methods can bring the cost of doing business down by up to 20%. Most Commonwealth Countries will grow at over 5% this year and all represent colossal opportunities for British companies.

Historically, Britain used to count countries such as New Zealand, India, Australia, Singapore and Canada among its leading trading partners.

Since joining the European single market, Germany, France, Holland and Belgium have assumed far greater importance to us while only five Commonwealth countries struggle to make it onto the list of top 25 export destinations.

However times could be changing. The latest overseas trade statistics show the biggest increase in exports are to our Commonwealth partners and if trends continue they are set to play a far more important part in our economic life.

In the 12 months up to the end of September our exports to India – roaring ahead with 9% growth – increased by a whopping 33.5% compared with the same period a year earlier.

Exports to Canada jumped 18.3% in the same period and those to Australia were up 30% while those to South Africa rose by 31%.

These are good improvements but there is massive potential in the Commonwealth and Britain should be at the forefront taking advantage of it.