The Sign of the Times
The Frontline of Change
Data and Resources
Publications & Reports
India’s Battle Against the Coronavirus
After spreading to virtually every part of the world and ravaging several large countries including China, the US and most of Western Europe, the Coronavirus
The Need for Conscious Capitalism
A brief discussion with Michael Gelb, best-selling author, about what businesses and investors can and should do to make capitalism more conscious and creative
Addressing India’s Literacy Challenge
A brief discussion with Sourav Banerjee, India Country Director for Room to Read, a global non-profit organisation whose mission is to tackle childhood illiteracy
Revolution and the Information Revolution
A brief discussion with Jon Miller, the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Digital Media Group and Chief Digital Officer for News Corporation
Plant for the Planet
Greater Pacific Capital talks to 15 year old Felix Finkbeiner who at the age of nine developed the idea of Plant-for-the-Planet
India: Where China was 10 Years Ago, Not all Emerging Markets are the Same?
Over the last 18 months the conventional wisdom that the next wave of global growth would be driven by emerging markets, and the “BRIC” countries in particular, has been turned on its head
The Enrichment of India’s Farming Community is the key to Adding US$4.3 trillion to Indian GDP
In 1961, India was on the brink of famine. Shortages all over the country had caused the government to import major food grains from other countries and with over 40 percent of India’s GDP supported by the agricultural sector at the time, there were grave concerns over the human impact on the country’s impoverished population
Strengthening India’s Growth Multiple in the Global Slowdown
India, the world’s fastest growing major economy, has been one of the few bright spots in an increasingly volatile world that has seen global risk rising.
Realising India’s demographic dividend: The People Determine Success
India has the largest potential labour force in the world with over 850m people who are of working age. Its current labour force of 500m is far below its potential but still greater than the combined forces of Japan, the European Union and the United States
India-International: How India’s Links to the World Create Value and Drive Development
There has been much discussion about the “India Story” and the key drivers of the world’s second most populous nation’s gradually accelerating growth path. The conventional wisdom is that India’s growth is being driven by its burgeoning young working age population (the “demographic dividend”) which is creating a growing middle class with increasing purchasing power driving India’s rise.
India Wide Open – Transforming India Now for 2040
In 1991, India opened its economy to the rest of the world and reversed decades of slow and insular growth implementing a series of far-ranging reforms. There have been ups and downs in the years since; today however, a little over 25 years later
India’s Journey to a US$5tn Economy:Growth Beyond Policy
India’s Journey to a US$5tn Economy: Growth Beyond Policy As the world’s fastest growing major economy, India’s GDP is on a path to overtake the United States’ and become the world’s second largest (behind China) by 2030 . It took India fifty years following independence from British rule to scale to a US$1 trillion economy in 2007.
India’s Rise: Growth Scenarios
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the start of his second term has laid out a vision of economic growth for India that would see the country’s GDP nearly double from US$3tn today to US$5tn within the next five years. Achieving this target will require a GDP growth of approximately 8%, substantially higher than India’s current growth, but well within its growth potential of 10% or more at this stage in its growth trajectory.
Digital Shock: India’s Challenges are its Opportunity to Lead in Tech
Over the past two decades, India has emerged as a market leader in providing information technology services to the world and will likely maintain this position in the coming years. More importantly, the coming decades will also see India apply digital technology to solve various issues it is facing, potentially leapfrogging older western models with new low-cost ones…
Digital Shock: India’s Opportunity to Create a New Healthcare System and Save US$50bn
The provision of modern healthcare to 1.3bn people is one of the biggest challenges facing India today and a priority for its government. Earlier this month the finance ministry made two flagship policy announcements aimed towards improving healthcare coverage in the country
Restructuring the Nation’s Financial Sector for 10%+ Growth
Given its favourable demographics and other resources, India has the inherent drivers to sustain 7-8% growth over the medium to long term and the potential to achieve 10%. An India that can sustainably harness its core assets and create new ones has the potential to emerge as one of the key drivers of growth and stability in a world faced with increasing global economic and geopolitical uncertainty.
Selected news that makes the difference
Doubling of FDI Inflow in 2014-23 to US$596bn Marks India’s Golden Era: Sitharaman.
FDI inflow into the country in the 2014-23 period doubled to $596 billion, compared to the inflows in 2005-13, while the focus of the bilateral investment treaties being negotiated with foreign partners is now on `first develop India’, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman pointed in her Budget speech for 2024-25.
Switzerland and India Reach Deal on FTA After 16 Years of Negotiations.
Switzerland and India have reached consensus on a free-trade agreement after 16 years of negotiations, Swiss Economy Minister Guy Parmelin said. The agreement “will create jobs for the young population of India, and secure employment in Switzerland,” Parmelin said in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Sonntagszeitung.
As UAE Deepens Ties, Indian Securities Get First ETF in Gulf.
Investors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are set to get their first regional exchange-traded fund (ETF) tracking Indian equities. Lunate Capital LLC is launching the Chimera S&P India Shariah ETF, replicating the performance of the S&P India Shariah Liquid 35/20 Capped Index. The fund will track the performance of Shariah-compliant Indian equities listed on the BSE.
IMF Raises India's FY24 Growth Forecast to 6.7% From 6.3%.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised India’s growth forecast upwards amid better-than-expected resilience in its domestic demand, it said in its latest World Economic Outlook update for January. IMF now expects India’s GDP to grow by 6.7% in FY24 as against 6.3% forecast made in the October 2023 update of its report. For FY25 and FY26, India’s GDP growth is seen steady at 6.5%.
PE-VC Deal Activity in India Picks Pace in January 2024.
Private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) deal flow picked up in January with the month recording a seven-month high in the number of deals closed. January recorded 71 investments worth $2.9 billion, as per Venture Intelligence. The spike was primarily due to PE major Brookfield’s $2 billion deal to acquire ATC India.
The Month Through India's Eyes
Spotlight on the key monthly news events shaping media coverage in India
Media coverage in the world this month covered the consecration of Ram Mandir on a disputed site in India and Iranian missile strikes in Pakistan.
Consecration of Ram Mandir on a Site of Previous Conflicts in India
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the consecration on 22nd January 2024 of a grand temple to the Hindu God Lord Ram on a site believed to be his birthplace. For decades, the temple site has been contested by both Hindus and Muslims, leading to nationwide riots in 1992 that killed an estimated 2,000 people after a Hindu group destroyed a 16th-century mosque that had stood there, and Hindus were burned alive in a train returning home from the site. National and global media coverage sought to explore the importance of the event, especially its political agenda for the BJP.
An op-ed article in News18 commented on the clash of ideologies between Hindus and Muslims with regards to the disputed site. “The dissenters of radical, political Islam are increasing in numbers; they do not want the dissolution of Islamic supremacists in Islamic as well as non-Islamic areas and people… The rise of populist governments all over has provided the space for dissenters of Muslim heritage to openly voice out their heresy (disagreement), controversial opinions, and taboo thoughts without the backlash… The 22 January 2024 Pran Pratishtha event in the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya is attributed to the cultural resurgence of the Indic civilisation and the religious revival of Hinduism. After nearly five centuries of Mughal rule, French, Portuguese, and British colonialism, and the Communist historians’ whitewashing of history, the Ram Mandir was constructed, restoring Ayodhya to its rightful city of reverence and importance… If the cities of Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem had so much meaning and symbolism for the billions of Muslims across the world, why wouldn’t Ayodhya have the same meaning to billions of Hindus across the country and abroad?”
An article in The Print explored how the world and especially Pakistan reacted to the inauguration ceremony. “Critics of the Ayodhya ceremony, however, called it a dark day for India, referring to the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 and the communal riots that followed… Audrey Truschke, Rutgers University professor and historian, wrote a 1,000-word piece on how this ceremony may unleash more violence on India’s “beleaguered” Muslim minority… The Pakistan Foreign Office also issued a statement condemning the temple inauguration, arguing that it was proof of growing “majoritarianism” in India and was a “blot” on Indian democracy… Foreign observers like Charlotte Littlewood offered tongue-in-cheek one-liners by comparing Ayodhya to Islam’s holiest city, Mecca… American author and astrologer David Frawley also predicted that this would pave the way for a new India, a new Bharat.”
Finally, an op-ed article in Deccan Herald focussed on the temple’s lingering effect on India’s political discourse. “This pledge has been a prominent feature of the BJP’s election manifesto for about three decades, serving as a pivotal factor in propelling it to power in both the Hindi heartland and New Delhi… The completion of the Ram temple means the BJP has gained credibility to champion Hindu causes in the future… The lukewarm response of opposition parties to the invitation to attend the Pran Pratishtha event could potentially disappoint many Hindus. Their excuses notwithstanding, it conveys a message that they may not be fully committed to respecting matters… A key concern of the opposition parties is that the BJP will now redirect its attention to other religious disputes, with Kashi and Mathura emerging as potential focal points… The Ayodhya Ram temple will offer the BJP substantial fuel to champion the Hindu cause, and the opposition parties a wake-up call to realign their approach.”
2024 Iran-Pakistan Missile Strikes
On 16 January 2024, Iran carried out a series of missile and drone strikes within Pakistan's Balochistan province, claiming that it had targeted the Iranian Baloch militant group Jaish ul-Adl. The incident occurred one day after Iran carried out a similar series of aerial and drone strikes within Iraq and Syria, claiming that it had targeted the regional headquarters of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad and several strongholds of terrorist groups in response to the Kerman bombings on 3 January, for which the Islamic State took responsibility. The Pakistani government condemned the attack, stating that Iran had killed two children and calling it an unprovoked violation of Pakistan's airspace. Media coverage sought to explore the reasons and implications.
An op-ed article in Atlantic Council examined how the international community has limited options to reduce Iran-Pakistan tensions. “The reciprocal attacks between Pakistan and Iran were a marked escalation to decades of skirmishes along one of the world’s more remote border regions. The international response may well be confused, since no one knows much about the area or about the terrorist groups or even the internal decision-making process of the countries involved… The international community has limited options to reduce tensions, although the United States is no doubt urging restraint. Unfortunately, US influence with Islamabad has waned because of the US decision to keep Pakistan, and particularly the Pakistani army, at arm’s length.”
An op-ed article in NDTV discussed how Iran's strikes in Pakistan reveal Islamabad's strategic collapse. “For Pakistan, this new theatre is another gash on a rapid disintegration of its now institutionally failed policies of promoting state-sponsored extremism and terrorism. As the country's economy collapses further and it fails to control its own strategic assets from turning against its rule, other countries and interests seem to be looking at this time in history as the most opportune to target these ecosystems unilaterally as well. With only caretakers managing the madhouse, political will seems limited, and the military has been too busy undermining its parallel civilian challenges from figures such as Imran Khan who got too big for the military's comfort level.”
Finally, an op-ed article in Firstpost argued how the deaths of civilians have been swept under the rug, and Iran and Pakistan are talking again. “Pakistan is hosting the Iranian foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdolla-Hian… He was invited by his Pakistani counterpart. The two leaders held a bilateral meeting. They emphasised regional security, border relations, and trade… The Iranian minister’s visit comes right after the death of nine Pakistani civilians. Islamabad has demanded an investigation. Iran says it will cooperate, and both sides ended the matter by agreeing to combat terror… So, they say they want to normalise ties. The talks were followed by laughs and hugs. Islamabad has even officially invited Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi; the visit is scheduled for next month.”
Pointing to the Future
Key insights and forecasts that show us what is to come
Democracy and Geopolitics Are on the Ballot in 2024.
This year, a dizzyingly diverse array of countries—from the most populous (India), to one of the least (Palau)—will hold national elections. In some, the outcomes are already predictable; for others, uncertainty prevails.
In the Year of Global Elections, China Must Pragmatically Re-engage the West.
Economic rejuvenation requires Beijing to stabilise and pragmatically re-engage with the West, establishing clear commitment to China being a stable, certain, and transparent environment for foreign businesses.
Can Japan’s Kishida Deliver on Political Reform?
Kishida pledged to restore trust in politics to renew his ruling Liberal Democratic Party which incurred a political funds scandal.
The Case for Rebuilding Ukraine.
Russia has caused unprecedented damage in Ukraine and with no diplomatic end in sight to the conflict, many Ukrainians are wondering when, if ever, they will be able to go back to their homes. According to many experts, the answer is sooner rather than later.
The Political Impact of the Israel-Hamas Ceasefire.
Another truce may not be imminent, but some short- and long-term effects—and the players who helped push them forward—are noteworthy.
How the Israel-Hamas War in Gaza Is Changing Arab Views.
Since October 7, the latest war between Hamas and Israel has claimed the lives of more than 15,000 Palestinians and over 1,200 Israelis and the high costs in Gaza have reverberated around the Arab world.
Thailand’s New Government Rebalances Its Relationship with China.
It is still early days, but all indications suggest that Thailand under Srettha’s leadership will continue to be practical in how it engages China and other major powers. This means identifying economic solutions and partnerships that will benefit its interests, and perhaps finding more of a balance between the two superpowers.
Americans Need Domestic Unity for Effective Foreign Policy.
This country’s founders believed that a system based on democratic principles better provides for domestic security and prosperity than any other. By showing progress on the long-standing issues that concern Americans at home, leaders can restore people’s confidence that this is so.
Global Risks and Opportunities
Big Picture TEST Metrics for the US, India and China, February 2022
India’s Manufacturing PMI was down to 55.5 in December 2021 from a tenth-month high of 57.6 in October, remaining in the growth territory, amid slower rise in sales and new orders, even as business sentiment was dampened by concerns surrounding supply-chain disruptions, COVID-19 and inflationary pressures. Exports and imports grew by 39% and 40% respectively as compared to the same period last year driven by rising international demand for Indian goods. No further rate cut was announced by the RBI during this month.
China’s Manufacturing PMI rose to 50.3 in December 2021 from 50.1 in November, slightly above market expectations of 50. The latest reading pointed to a modest growth rate in the manufacturing sector, which is expected to remain subdued at the start of the new year due to uncertainties brought by the pandemic outbreak in Xian and Omicron variant. Exports and imports grew by 21% and 20% respectively as compared to the same period last year.
The Leading Financial Hubs for the Sustainable Information Age.
The global finance industry today is dominated by a few key financial hubs, which concentrate much of the world’s financial activity and served as nerve centres for the global economy. During the next decade however, the global finance industry stands to be fundamentally transformed by a series of major transitions relating to sustainability, digital technology and to geopolitics.
President’s Agenda: The Decisions that Will Shape US-China Relations; published in “Obama and the World” (Routledge Studies in US Foreign Policy
During the past decade, China has gone from being a “strategic partner” (under President Clinton ) to being a “strategic competitor” (under President Bush ). What the US and China will be to each other will be shaped by how Presidents Obama and Xi tackle the top bilateral issues of trade and economics, foreign policy, natural resources, as well as their respective top domestic issues.
American Power, Patterns of Rise and Decline; published in “Obama and the World” (Routledge Studies in US Foreign Policy)
The rise of China and the end of the American Century is a topic that has occupied policy makers, economists and investors throughout the past decade. While the continuing rise of China has recently been called into question by some, American decline still appears to be a foregone conclusion in the eyes of many analysts and commentators
The Master Strategist: Power, Purpose and Principle in Action
We stand at a point in history where we can have almost anything we desire and are able to manipulate technology to create wealth and launch any war we wish to fight. Learning how to create a strategy for saving the future is now essential.
Multilateralism to Transactionalism – America and Trump in the Asia-Pacific; published in “The US in the Indo-Pacific: Obama’s Legacy and the Trump Transition” (Birmingham University Press)
The United States under Donald Trump is set to chart a radically new course in Asia, a region that has long relied on America for stability and maintaining the balance of power. President Trump has reversed or sought to reverse many of the long-standing policies and initiatives pursued by his predecessors, with potential long-term implications for the global balance of power.