Unstoppable India

The global slowdown fear is on horizon. US economy is indicating trends of impending recession. Inflation is causing a concern all over the world, at least for all the middle class and below. However, I have my reasons to believe that Indian growth story will be unstoppable. Inflation in India is not due to supply constraints but because the traders wish to make their cut in the disposable money available with the people at large. My conviction is also based on the rising India and the stories of the aspiring Indian entrepreneurship. It is not because Tata, Birla, or Reliance is thinking big with expansion in domestic domains and global acquisitions. But the urge to excel and create wealth has spread quite widely in entrepreneurs in different fields all over the country. And that is behind Ramakrishna Karuturi becoming the world’s largest rose producer. By December 2009, his ‘Karuturi Global’ will be thrice as big as the second-largest rose producer. It is the same aspiration that makes Mukund Choudhury’s Spentex, with 5.70 lakh spindles, the world’s largest yarn manufacturer. Sylvania today is the fourth-largest lighting company with manufacturing facilities across the world. Even smaller companies, be it Coimbatore-based compressor manufacturer Elgi Equipments or textile machinery maker Lakshmi Machine Works are aspiring to go global including setting up facilities in China. As reported, over two-thirds of the M&A transactions involving Indian businesses were by SMEs in 2007. According to a M&A report by consulting firm Avendus, in 2007, there were 79 outbound transactions totaling €13.7 billion (Rs 89,100 crore, excluding the Tata-Corus deal), while the 72 inbound transactions totaled €15.2 billion (Rs 98,800, excluding the Vodafone transaction). Is this not a Rising India?

And it is happening even in the fields and farms, plains and hills. Leaving the leisurely life of good old days behind, ‘one finds farmers in Himachal tending terraces of zucchini and swathes of red lettuce interspersed with fennel.’ Himachal Pradesh is fast becoming a hub for gourmet foods production to the immense potential, which the state’s temperate climate and geography offers. In the nondescript town Paonta Sahib, Manmohan Singh Malik is making tonnes of mozzarella cheese in the authentic Italian way from high fat buffalo milk and exporting all to the US and European markets. With an Italian mozzarella cheese-maker, named Raffaele Cioffi to supervise operations, his Himalayan International Ltd now produces 600 tonnes of mozzarella annually. Simultaneously, he also grows vegetables like red cabbage, jalapenos, broccoli and herbs on around 150 acres of land through contract farming. Among his export list are hugely popular herbal samosas stuffed with herbs and mozzarella, jalapenos also stuffed with cheese, and baby potatoes in jackets, boiled, stuffed and frozen for US supermarkets. In addition, some 2,000 tonnes of frozen mushrooms too are exported annually. Today, almost 500 farmers spread across dozens of villages grow asparagus, pakchoi, joichoi, snowpeas, leeks, cherry tomatoes, fennel, celery, coloured bell peppers, zucchini, broccoli, and a variety of lettuces such as lollorosa, radicchio and romaine. And more and more farmers are joining the aspiring group.

A similar endeavour in Uttar Pradesh is helping India to become the largest producer of menthol mint oil in the world, overtaking China. With a production of about 17,000 tonnes, the country now commands a 78 per cent share of the annual global output of menthol mint oil. About 300,000 farmers in Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, and a few other states are working hard over three-to-four months every year to grow the herb, that brings additional Rs 30,000 or more per acre without sacrificing the main crop. As I wrote earlier, it is becoming very popular with the farmers around Madhukarpur in my district that is Yamuna’s village. Her nephew, Rinkoo tells me it is all because of Barabanki.

And the wasteland is getting used to grow a shrub-like tree called jatropha to produce the alternative oil that is the fuel for all the cars of government officials (including the Chief Minister) in Chhattisgarh. India is trying to launch one of the world’s biggest jatropha bio-fuel projects in order to bolster its energy security.

And there are many reasons to believe India will keep on growing its GDP at a good rate around 9.5%. According to CMIE CapEx Service, projects worth Rs 340,000 crore (Rs 3400 billion) are scheduled for commissioning in FY’09 that would be the highest ever completion of investments in the Indian history.

It is difficult to predict what will take India ahead and who will ride India’s next wave. At least, one programme can give a useful hint. In February this year, some 250,000 students across 360 educational institutes took part in National Entrepreneurship Network’s EWeek (entrepreneurship week) where they took part in group discussions and met investors and successful entrepreneurs. They also spent three days on an “Rs 50” game, where they had to devise out-of-the-box businesses (with an investment of Rs 50) in three days and prove their viability. These businesses ranged from dog washing to salsa classes, printed T-shirts and costume jewellery. At Bangalore’s Mount Carmel College, students baked a cake for Rs 50 and sold one slice of that cake for Rs 20 and used the surplus to bake more products and make a handsome profit.

The entrepreneurs in million and their innovations will make India unstoppable.

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