Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union minister for civil aviation and steel, during a special address at Fortune India's 40 Under 40 Awards today, says from just a few startups, India now has more than 28,000 startups, of which more than 100 are unicorns (startups with valuation worth over $1 billion). “These are not coming from the typical metro cities but tier 2 and tier 3 cities, which tells you the story of India's entrepreneurship capability. But setting up the right ecosystem is important, which has been painstakingly woven by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

The minister says India stands on the cusp today, where its voice is heard and valued. “Our macro-economic situation is improving by the day. We are the second largest producer of steel in the world. Great opportunities are emerging in India, hyper digitalisation is happening in markets across all spectrums. For entpreprenuers, time is now, time is in India."

India’s entrepreneurial spirit has been unleashed in the last 5-8 years. “In India, MSMEs and startups experienced VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) factor. You have seen the unleashing of entrepreneurial spirit in India, which shows the capacity of our country.”

He says there are about 134 crore people, of which 70% are below the age of 35, which is close to 90 crore people or 900 million. “It is almost 2-3 times the population of the U.S. and one-and-a-half times the population of combined Europe -- that's the entrepreneurship capability that has been unleashed in India.”

Scindia says a lot of this has been possible because of the right policy and approach toward nurturing emerging startups. “We have seen some of this happening through the Covid-19 pandemic where the country – with the PM's initiatives, assistance, directives – has seen innovation at the scale of rapidity, which was probably never seen before. India, which used to import vaccines, emerged as a major exporter of vaccines. That’s the hallmark of our capability in these stress-out times. Today, India has emerged strongly as the pharma capital of the world, not only in terms of producing generic drugs but as a centre of innovation.”

Scindia says in the last eight years the NDA government’s initiatives like Goods and Services Tax, IBC Code, and removal of antiquated laws, have led to a right environment coming to the fore. “A great example is the area of drones. A year ago, it was a non-existent industry in India. Today India has the ability to power itself into a global hub by 2030, which is possible because of effective policy-making, incentives, and the creation of demand. The government has launched a number of initiatives to provide all three legs of the tripod to startups in India.”

For entrepreneurs, whose culture is to take advantage of opportunities or disconnects in a market pipeline to provide value, three things are crucial – innovation, its impact, and indigenisation, says the minister. “All three come together to provide India with a great opportunity. One thing I would urge entrepreneurs to look at is collaboration in addition to competition as they go forward. In a marketplace, as companies do come together to suss out market opportunity, a collaboration by the private or public sector will lead to growth opportunities."

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