Although the last year was a tough one for Indian businesses, yet the country, based primarily on strong economic fundamentals, has a very bright future ahead, says former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi. While lauding India’s efforts in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, Nooyi pointed out that now the country needs to focus more on strengthening its supply chain and become cost effective in terms of logistics.

Nooyi argued that for India to seize the next decade as its own, there are broadly five parameters the country needs to focus on: skilling, product innovation, a robust supply chain, improving ease of doing business, and digitisation.

“India already has done well on a host of parameters, but I feel these five focus areas would propel India forward,” she said at Amazon Smbhav 2021, the e-commerce giant’s annual summit for small and medium businesses (SMBs). Nooyi pointed out that India, with its large population, already has a huge catchment area for talent. “But India cannot just pride itself on having great universities, but look at education as a whole, as skilling and re-skilling will become a critical component of growth.”

Nooyi, who was in conversation with NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, pointed out that while India has improved its ease of doing business ranking, still there was a lot of headroom for growth. And an important aspect of this would be to focus not just on large companies but also SMBs, which, according to her, are the real drivers of economic growth.

“But it requires thinking very carefully about the future products you want to manufacture as opposed to all products that could sunset. So [it's] very important that you think about what role you want to play in the future. And what kind of ecosystems are you going to build for India and for export,” she said.

According to Nooyi, India needs to look carefully not only at product innovation, but also product quality. In the latter case, she cited the example of Japan, a country known for its strong commitment to Six Sigma quality, and for which it has already built a robust reputation for its products.

“I think India is on the verge of committing to extremely high quality output. And the robustness of the supply chain requires road, rail, power, water, and enough land to build the ecosystem. I think the government is thinking about this in an integrated way, and I hope infrastructure build out is a big part of the thinking because that's critical,” she said.

Coming back to the ease of doing business, Nooyi suggested that globally, even with improved rankings, India gets a bad reputation on this front. But that is primarily due to bureaucratic processes, which cannot be altered overnight. But, Nooyi argues, one way to circumvent this challenge is to focus more on digitalisation of processes. And a key component of this, Nooyi feels, is transparency. “Making sure the government removes corruption, protects intellectual property, and has a consistent policy, all this will go a long way in improving ease of doing business in India. In short, India should tell the world that it is open for business,” she said.

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