Let change prevail…

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Now, Omicron has added an element of uncertainty to the global economy. But when it comes to emerging markets, the unanimous view is that the prospect remains bright. India’s GDP rebound (from the previous year’s pandemic contraction) does not necessarily mean than an economic recovery is underway; our economy was slowing well before Covid! The Government’s challenge is to not only ensure a revival of growth but also make sure that it is broad-based. Only then the real incomes of most Indians can rise. It will require policies that facilitate employment generation and increase the real income of a worker. We need to begin the process of structural reforms to undo the damage done to the large majority of informal workers and enterprises. The labour market remains disrupted like never before, and some of the changes might prove permanent. Many workers are wondering whether their jobs are even worth it.

The policies we choose now will have consequences for decades to come. We may have brought an end to the pandemic roller-coaster, but in 2022 we must act just wisely and quickly to enact strategies that will lead us into a better future. We are indeed delighted at the appointment of Dr V Anantha Nageswaran as the Chief Economic Advisor for India’s Finance Minister. An outstanding economist, he will surely provide the recipe for high growth, reviving investments and containing the budget gap. We have had the privilege of Dr Anantha Nageswaran addressing the members of MMA last month during the conclave on the theme “Participative Leadership”. An article on the thought provoking address is published in this issue with an embedded video. Enjoy reading the inspiring address on “The Traits of Great Leaders” by our CEA.

Leaders should use all their resources to generate awareness and push reforms that are aimed at keeping the skill-sets of the workforce up to the mark. It is critical for leaders to work with everyone and create a mechanism that encourages innovation and adaptability.

Change is the only constant
As the proverb goes change is the only constant. The field of technology has been evolving at a rapid pace that many of us find it tough to keep up. It is rightly predicted that the post-pandemic era is going to witness a shift in global dynamics. The heads of state and corporate executives will have to evolve and rework their strategies. Leaders should use all their resources to generate awareness and push reforms that are aimed at keeping the skill-sets of the workforce up to the mark. It is critical for leaders to work with everyone and create a mechanism that encourages innovation and adaptability. It is the endeavour of MMA to carefully conceptualise and curate its programmes to meet the aspirations and expectations of our stakeholders. In this context, we organised a number of conclaves / seminars in December 2021 on varied themes for the benefit of our members and management professionals. The recording of these high profile events is available for your viewing.

Indian economy & reforms
The state in India is not large relative to the size of the country, but still it spreads itself aggressively in doing many things. It fundamentally lacks the capacity to do all things well, ending up with poor governance and delivery of essential public services. Hence, it is critical to strengthen state capability to do those things well, whether it is for delivering public services such as education, healthcare, infrastructure development, law and order or enacting regulation to protect the environment. In that light it would be better to focus on a few key reforms, strengthen state capacity for reforms and leave the rest to the invisible hand of the market. In this context, MMA – KAS organized a conclave on the theme, “Robust Public Policy for Business Transformation.” The thought-provoking keynote address by Mr P R Ramesh, Former Chairman, Deloitte, is published in this issue with embedded video; please click to read on and get inspired!

Back to school
Over 200 million children have lost at least two years and we risk having a ‘learning lost’ generation. After a long gap, schools have finally opened their gates to enthusiastic learners. With in-person learning in place, classrooms are going to brim again with the chatter of students. Offline learning although familiar also comes with post-pandemic demands. Students and teachers need to take care of themselves and should not drop their guard. We strongly believe that educational space provides the best opportunity for promoting these lessons among children to foster a strong sense of responsibility in society. The MMA CSR initiative supported by ACSYS Investments and Super Auto Forge would focus on these areas to ensure students are provided with the best possible educational experience. The future of in-person learning in schools is bound to be bright and highly satisfying. There is hope because there are remarkable people unseen, unnamed but holding the world together and moving it.

Air India back in the Tata Group hangar
The Air India deal made all happy. This was the toughest company to divest. A loss-making venture and a debt of over Rs. 60,000 crores was a deterrent for any potential buyer. But Air India has some of the best aircrafts and routes. Tata’s prevailed and paid just Rs. 18,000 cores including cash of Rs. 2,700 crores only. It was a home-coming for the Tatas: The government was happy to get the company off its hands. The Rs. 42,000 crores debt was transferred to a special purpose vehicle. Everyone wins. The entire story must serve as a lesson for the management of other public sector companies—how undertakings large and small should not be allowed to go sick. The travel space now is crowded with many private airlines. It is up to the Tatas to ensure that passengers can reminisce the Air India of the good old days.

Budget 2022
India completes 75 years as an Independent nation this August. The Finance Minister will present the annual budget of the Union against this backdrop. There is a lesson to be taken from the past 75 years.

The Indian economy has broken free from many of its old structural constraints. The Finance Minister will present the new Union Budget at a time when the economy is recovering from the Covid shock. The recovery in domestic demand is still uneven, inflationary pressures are building up, global economy is preparing for higher interest rates and crude oil prices are close to their highest level in seven years. Budget 2022 will obviously focus on these challenges.

Women in leadership roles
Gender diversity across the Indian start-up ecosystem narrowed only a little in 2021 even as start-ups managed to raise record funds at high valuation during the year. A recent report showed that about 70% start-ups in the country have less than 20% women in leadership roles. While gender diversity in start-ups and tech has started to get a lot more attention lately, it continues to be a challenge. In this context, we are delighted to present to you in this issue an article on the theme “Gender Diversity & Inclusive Board Room” based on the thought proving address by Dr Amarnath Ananthanarayanan, Managing Director, The Sanmar Group – Corporate Division during the Conclave on the theme “Robust Public Policy for Business Transformation”.

We are also delighted to know that start-ups inc have begun 2022 with a bang: over 3.5 billion dollar investments in January 2022! Record funds amid downturn in global markets signals sustained investor interest. I strongly believe that it is a show of continuation of the long term investors belief in the Indian tech capability and success. We are indeed delighted to present the article on the event organized under the start-up series – Mr V Shankar in conversation with Mr Jahabar Sadique, Co-Founder & CEO, Chai Kings, on the theme “Chai Kings – Rising from the Ashes”.

The Russia-Ukraine crisis
As tensions heighten between Russia and Ukraine, Moscow is gambling a stand-off with the West. In this context, two major questions are of particular concern. Is Mr Putin rational? And can he be deterred? It is probably also wrong to suggest that Mr Putin cannot feel threatened by NATO because it would never invade Russia. A strong NATO with more members, especially in the East, would make Mr Putin look and feel more constrained, hence Mr Putin’s anti-NATO demands shouldn’t be seen as a sheer manipulation. May be NATO could have signalled earlier that the membership of Ukraine was unlikely. Let statesmanship prevail and hope for the peace!

Wishing our readers once gain a brighter 2022—raising a toast to those who adapt and change forever during the New Normal.

As always, we would be happy to hear your views, comments and suggestions.