Recognising India’s largest midsize companies at the Fortune India Next 500 summit
The bellwether of an economy is its micro, small and medium enterprises. Quietly and away from the limelight the work done by the MSMEs allows the engine rooms at big corporations to keep firing.
Yet, these are the very companies which suffer the most every time the economy faces marcoeconomic headwinds.
Chaudhary Birender Singh
Union Minister of Steel
Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation
Dr. Prathap C. Reddy
Founder Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group
Executive Director, Arvind Limited
Founder, MD & CEO, IIFL Wealth Management Ltd
Country President & MD, Schneider Electric India
Secretary General, FICCI
Chairman & MD, Hero Future Energies
Today, yet again India finds itself faced with uncertain macroeconomic conditions and challenges emerging out unexpected corners. At this crucial juncture, the 2018 edition of the Fortune India Next 500 summit focussed on thought provoking discussions by industry leaders and policy makers.
The night kicked off with an address by one of India’s most experienced businessmen, Prathap C. Reddy, the founder and chairman of Apollo Hospitals.
Reddy urged the attendees, which included officials from the companies in the 2018 Fortune India Next 500 list, that staying healthy is the way to ensure they make a significant difference in India’s future.
He pitched for a “Heal in India” campaign to make the country the preferred destination for medical tourists.
“There is a scope for India to become the global healthcare destination. We have built the highest standards of facilities here and offer treatment at a fraction of the cost [when compared to countries like the U.S.],” Reddy said.
For Lalbhai, the key to longevity is through reinvention. “In the past you used to worry about your cohort of competitors. Now the bigger threat I would say is from the outside the industry—startups, collaborations, world becoming smaller. People who would normally not be competition are now competition. So, it’s hard,” he said pointing to just how hard it is to retain the pole position.
According to Lalbhai, the four mantra's for Arvind's success are the nimbleness of its business model, technology, sustainability, and people. He then went on to explain examples from Arvind’s own storied history and some of the new initiatives it is taking to prepare for the disruptions of the future.
Lalbhai said that Arvind is exploring changing the manufacturing processes through robotics and exploring how to cut down and re-imagine the way textiles are manufactured. The company is also working with artificial intelligence to predict what trend will be prominent in tomorrow’s consumer domain.
Up next was a discussion amongst Rahul Munjal, chairman and managing director, Hero Future Energies, Anil Chaudhry, country president and MD, Schneider Electric and Dilip Chenoy, secretary general, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry. The three distinguished names from India Inc took stock of the country’s economic health and how the country and navigate through the tricky times that lay ahead.
All three agreed that India continues to fare well on economic indicators, but there are some domestic and external challenges that have to be managed.
Munjal believes that to solve all these problems politicians, the bureaucracy and the judiciary need to work together and have a unified vision.
“The judiciary makes laws without consultation, bureaucracy does what they want to do at their own pace, and the politicians are moving at a different pace. So if we don’t have all three of them running at the same pace… progress becomes more difficult,” he said.
Chaudhary on the other hand said that in the times to come priority needs to be given for providing the country’s citizen with access to energy and digital connectivity. “These are going to be the fundamental human rights,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chenoy said that policy making in the future needs to focus on the the fact that the decisions are meant to be like planting a tree whose shade will be enjoyed by the future generation and not necessarily on votes for the next elections.
The jam-packed evening of stellar speakers had Karan Bhagat, managing director and CEO of IIFL Wealth Management up next.
Bhagat said employees, capital focus and digitisation are the key to success for any corporation. He added that even following the focus on these areas a mantra can lead to mistakes. However, he said that companies should learn from the mistakes rather than be negatively influenced.
With the stage being set by the industry’s representatives, it was time for the government to present their solutions.
First up was Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha. The former investment banker, Sinha presented a new model of economic development for India. He admitted that India has a long way to go before its GDP per capita improves, but said the way to make up time is through providing high-productivity jobs.
“Look at places like Gurugram, Whitefield, Hinjewadi. We have people here who have gone straight to the productivity frontier by working in industries that are absolutely world class today. So we have to get people from agriculture and bring them to the productivity frontier and make sure that they are as productive as possible because only then we will get them to highly prosperous high quality jobs,” Sinha said.
The Chief Guest of the night Minister for Steel Chaudhary Birender Singh took to the stage next. Singh highlighted the importance of the MSMEs for the steel sector, reminding people that though the sector is know for Fortune India 500 companies, those in the iron & steel sector of the Fortune India Next 500 list are equally important.
“Our vision is to make Indian steel industry globally competitive and the world number one in quality,” he added.
The two ministers were then joined in stage for a candid chat with Sourav Majumdar, Editor, Fortune India. From the agenda for a new India to politics, the chat had it all and bringing to an end the discussions for the night.
The event concluded with Majumdar, Singh and Sinha felicitating the wealth creators among the Fortune India Next 500. These are companies who have managed to create wealth for shareholders over three and five years.
Explore Fortune India’s The Next 500 2018 edition.