India defies simple explanations and solutions. Yet its government, newly energized under recently elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, presented a Comprehensive Growth Strategy document at the recent G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia that includes a few sweeping general programs designed to contribute significantly to the G20's stated goal of creating US$1.5 trillion in additional wealth within its membership.

It's the sort of report that should have received more notice at a two-day summit that ended up focusing more on pesky geo-politics than its stated focus of economic and societal development.

Given is success over the past decade in building exported IT services and products to a level of $86 billion, India's strategy as presented to the G20 outlines several programs that directly and indirectly involve the use of advanced information technology:

  • Development of 100 Smart Cities, comprising new satellites of major metropolitan areas an upgraded mid-sized cities, with more than $1 billion earmarked in the coming year

  • Expanding its Digital India program with an investment of about $80 million

  • Providing training in IT skills through its National Rural Internet and Technology Mission

  • Setting up a National Industrial Corridor Authority "with Smart Cities linked to transport connectivity, which will be a cornerstone of the strategy to drive India's growth in manufacturing and urbanization."

  • Create five more Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campuses

  • Create an "investor-friendly" eBiz platform and ecosystem, as well as a new e-Visa program at nine of its international airports

  • Allow new single-person companies to be created at a very low cost

Then there's the "Make in India" program, which has identified 25 different sectors that encourage foreign investment. Those of us who still remember the closed India business environment from a generation ago cannot help but be impressed with how much the nation has changed, and is continuing to change, in this area.

The Make in India initiative promises a prompt response to investor inquiries. It also plans to reach domestic companies who have "leadership in innovation and new technology" for the purpose of "turning them into global champions. The focus will be on promoting green and advanced manufacturing."

Our research at the Tau Institute shows that India lags a bit in the dynamism of its IT infrastructure. This can be explained by an enormous population of 1.25 billion, with hundreds of millions still in poverty. The challenge is enormous.

Even so, India ranks 62nd out of the 103 nations we survey overall, ahead of Greece, Mexico, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, South Africa, and Nigeria, for example. In our Goldilocks measurement - calculated to see which nations are running too hot, too cold, or just right - India is running as optimally as any nation.

The overall challenge facing India's leaders - a calculation we make by measuring instantaneous change integrated into population size - is huge, among the world's top 10 and greater than the overall challenge facing Nigeria, for example.

The heat, noise, and traffic encountered in urban India can be paralyzing and demoralizing to both the relatively soft Western visitor and hardened native alike. India's centralized government in northern New Delhi has been seen as a major impediment to growth, particularly among in the more-vibrant Mumbai and Pune, and southern technology centers such as Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai.

So a nice government document presented alongside other nice government documents from other big nations may not impress everyone. But we see progress and hope for the world's largest democracy, and will keep tabs in particular on how the Make in India and Smart Cities programs play out.

As always, we are able to create deep, custom looks at our findings for India as with all the 103 nations we survey.



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