Author: Bharti Gupta Ramola, Markets Leader, PwC India
The India summary of our 18th Annual Global CEO Survey has thrown up some interesting and surprising results. CEOs in India were the most positive about their business growth prospects and also the most bullish about prospects for the global economy, when compared to their global peers. A whopping 84% of CEOs in India said there were more opportunities today than there were three years ago, against 41% who saw more threats. They also seemed less bothered about potential industry disruptions coming their way in the next few years.
While the positive sentiment about business growth is understandable, the bullishness about the global economy raises a question. Are CEOs in India super excited because of some positive developments in the global economy and a pro-reform government in India? Or are they locally focused and isolated and not so connected with the real issues confronting the global economy? Similarly, the gap between the opportunity and threat perception and relatively low concern about disruptions raises the question about the preparedness of CEOs in India. However, at least one CEO we spoke with about these results thought that perhaps CEOs in India are seeing disruptions as opportunities rather than concerns.
No doubt India is on an upswing, with aspirational double-digit growth that the business community can’t wait to see. PwC's new report, The World in 2050: Will the shift in global economic power continue? projects that India will be the second-largest economy in 2050 in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). However, there are two prerequisites for this: firstly, structural and institutional reforms and secondly, large-scale investments. There’s also the big question of whether India has, or can build, the capabilities needed to compete in an increasingly borderless market.
In the survey, CEOs in India saw inadequate basic infrastructure and bribery and corruption as the top threats to business growth, and availability of key skills was a key common concern shared with their global peers.
Global CEOs have reinstated their faith in India, which ranked sixth this year in terms of the most important markets for CEOs’ overseas growth prospects - the same as last year. With the IMF and World Bank also showing confidence in India, all eyes are on government action to improve the environment for doing business in the country. Yet, as our report, The Future of India: the Winning Leap, points out, corporations in India have much to do to build the capabilities needed to create innovative solutions that address the needs of India’s growing market in a resource-efficient way. Only then can India progress on an unprecedented growth trajectory and take that winning leap.
Bharti Gupta Ramola is the Markets Leader for PwC India and a member of the India Leadership Team. Prior to her current role, she was the Deals Leader for PwC India. Bharti has also led the Infrastructure, Government & Utilities & Energy Sector Advisory for PwC India and was a member of PwC's Global Diversity and Inclusion Council. In her personal capacity, Bharti serves on the boards of BASIX and Srijan, two of India’s leading organisations promoting livelihood development. She has been Chair of the Board of PRADAN.