Before 1991, Indian business success was a function of licenses, government contact and an understanding of the bureaucratic system. Decisions were based on connections, rather than the dynamics of the free market. During this era, entrepreneurship was subdued, capital was limited and India had very few large scale success stories.
In 1991, the Indian government liberalised the economy, thus changing the competitive landscape completely. Importantly, new breeds of businesses were conceived, ones that focused on ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and India soon became the back office of the world. Her English language capabilities proving to be extremely valuable!
This gave India a new global identity and encouraged the emergence of a more confident, global India.
India: Centre Of Disruptive Innovation
In recent years, India has become a centre of disruptive innovation, a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity and we have seen a burgeoning of entrepreneurial talent and ideas across a variety of sectors. Indian entrepreneurs who were previously compelled to migrate to the western world to seek investment and world leading technology now have access to both at home, with global industry and academia both looking very seriously at India for opportunities to collaborate.
Entrepreneurs fundamentally see opportunity where challenges exist and what Indian entrepreneurs have to their advantage over their western counterparts is the opportunity to find solutions to emerging economy challenges that are visible all around them!
With a population in excess of 1.2 Bn, it will be impossible for the government to provide for the basic needs of all citizens and therein lies the opportunity for entrepreneurs and innovators – particularly in areas of education & healthcare.
How Startups Can Make A Difference
The Indian startup system ecosystem is rapidly driven by an extremely young, diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial landscape. There are more than 3,100 startups (Source: NASSCOM 2016) and the number is expected to reach 10,000 by 2020 making India the largest incubator(after the US and China) of emerging startups. Disruptive innovation is the key and Indian enterprise is perfectly poised to produce solutions to challenges faced by the developing world.
Technology is at the heart of India’s entrepreneurial movement and techled disruptive innovation has enabled an ease of operations in many areas where complications previously existed. Today consumers from across all socio economic levels are able to purchase goods from computers to vegetables online and our PM’s recent moves encourage a further strengthening of the nation’s reliance on e payment systems.
The one area where we are yet to migrate fully online is core education. Brick and mortar still seems to generate a much greater level of confidence, particularly in India’s Tier II & III cities where a majority of our middles classes reside.
As a higher education professional, my personal views are traditional and my belief is that online resources can aide classroom learning but not fully replace it. There is great value in having personal interactions and peer to peer learning is far more valuable in a physical classroom environment, both at the secondary and higher education levels.
Having said so, it is important to continue developing technologies that enable effective peer to peer learning in the virtual ecosystem and I am sure this day is not too far.
In conclusion, entrepreneurship should be a combination of global best practices and local execution. The devil is always in the details and as a senior colleague of mine based in London says “Ideas are great, but we must continue to focus on the art of the doable!” The global market place is accessible to all so an ideal combination would be the fostering of a global mindset, adoption of renowned international methods being employed to solve local challenges.
[The author of this post is Aditya Malkani, founder & MD of Think Education Advisory Services.]