This April, Bangladesh became the 19th country to agree to settle bilateral trade in Indian rupees. Countries wary of excessive dollar outflows, especially those who run trade deficit with India, have started signing rupee trade settlement deals.

Indian rupee is among the prominent currencies that are being referred to as the 'R' Club that threatens the hegemony of the dollar in international trade and settlements. These currencies — whose names co-incidentally start with an 'R' — envisage a multi-polar system where Indian rupee, Brazilian real, Russian rouble, Chinese renminbi, South African rand, Saudi riyal, Indonesian rupiah and Malaysian ringgit are a viable alternative to the dominance of the U.S. dollar. Their acceptance having been accelerated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. India, for instance, has approved 60 cases for opening Special Rupee Vostro Accounts from over one-and-a-half dozen nations. Even France, a NATO member, has exhorted Europe to reduce dependence on the U.S. dollar, settling its first gas trade in Chinese RMB. Is the world headed towards de-dollarisation of the financial system? Rajiv Ranjan Singh explains how realistic is this proposition.

Meanwhile, as the world transitions through technologies and India accelerates self-reliance in manufacturing, the country stares at an unprecedented talent shortage with vital roles going unfilled. As firms deploying 5G equipment manufacturing, semiconductors, climate technologies, EVs and batteries, medical equipment manufacturing and defence manufacturing go hunting for talent, they have laid bare the talent gap.

According to World Economic Forum, 85 million jobs could be displaced by 2025, by the shift in division of labour between machines and humans. But at the same time, as many as 97 million new roles are expected by advances in technology.

That poses an enormous challenge before some of India's largest business houses such as Tata Group, Reliance Industries, Adani Group and Vedanta who are foraying aggressively into emerging business opportunities. Ajita Shashidhar and Nevin John examine the challenge.

Next, technology is advancing into one of the least impacted industries so far — Indian agriculture. Microsoft India, Amazon Web Services, Jio Platforms, ITC, Cisco, ESRI, NCDEX e-Markets Ltd. (NeML), Wadhwani AI, and Ninjacart are among the tech firms working with the ministry of agriculture to develop NextGen solutions for agriculture. Pilot projects completed early this year have set the stage for a digital transition of Indian agriculture which can potentially transform lives and livelihoods of the country's 12.6 crore farmers surviving on less than two hectares of farm land.

The projects cater to areas such as creating a database of farmers, farmlands, soil health, crop patterns and agricultural practices; advisories based on weather and soil health; better farm-to-market linkages; development of creditworthiness evaluation tools; e-tailing of seeds, fertilisers and pesticides and farm-gate sale of produce. Joe C. Mathew explains how this is being put in place.

Our special package this month is Fortune India's iconic annual listing '40 under 40' — India Inc.'s young business leaders who made a mark on the economic landscape with their conviction to pursue their vision, fearless risk-taking capacity and the ability to make a difference in their industries. Our gratitude to the power-packed jury who painstakingly deliberated on the candidates to identify the best and the brightest 40.

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