The Sign of the Times
The Frontline of Change
Data and Resources
Publications & Reports
Transforming Education Through Technology is a Key to Underpinning Human Security and Progress
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
India’s GDP Growth Accelerates to 7.8% in April-June Quarter.
While this is lower than the 13.5 per cent GDP growth in the first quarter of the previous year, India’s economy has been growing at a steady pace and is likely to improve further during the upcoming festive season.
India’s Foreign Trade Crosses US$800 Billion Mark in First Six Months of 2023.
A healthy growth in India’s services segments has helped the country’s total exports and imports of goods and services to cross the US$800 billion mark during the first half of 2023, despite a slowdown in global demand.
India's FDI Outflow Rises 73% to US$1.85 Billion in July Over June.
Interrupting a two-month streak of decline, outward foreign direct investment (FDI) rose sequentially to US$1.85 billion in July over US$1.07 billion in June, an increase of 73 per cent.
SEBI to Ease Exit Norms for PE/VC Funds with Illiquid Assets in AIFs.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India is considering giving relaxations to alternative investment funds that have not wound down or liquidated their assets for many years. There are over 100 such private equity and venture capital funds, with total assets in the vicinity of ₹15,000-20,000 crore, according to industry estimates.
UK-India Trade Talks Enter Final, Trickier Stage.
UK trade talks with India are reaching their "final but trickier" stages, according to government sources. "They committed to delivering agreements with India and with the United States by the end of 2022 yet failed to meet their own deadline. So them trumpeting the latest round of trade talks falls far short the concrete action needed to get any deal across the line."
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 European Commission adopting the European Sustainability Reporting Standards and The Netherlands entering recession.
European Commission Adopts the European Sustainability Reporting Standards
In January 2023, the European Union adopted the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which requires EU and non-EU companies with activities in the EU to file annual sustainability reports alongside their financial statements. These reports must be prepared in accordance with European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS). On July 31, 2023, the European Commission adopted the first set of ESRS. The ESRS soon will become law and will apply directly in all 27 EU member states, but not in the UK. Companies will need to report in compliance with these new ESRS as early as the 2024 reporting period. The standards are notable for their breadth and granularity, going well beyond the reporting requirements in other mandatory and voluntary ESG reporting frameworks. Media coverage sought to explore the implications of this on the EU, US and emerging countries like India.
An article in European Business Review explored how the world is facing a dramatic change in corporate reporting and how sustainability is increasingly at the core of decision-making. “It is about the harmonisation of corporate sustainability reporting on ecological, social, and governance (ESG) dimensions. Politicians and customers are increasingly putting sustainability at the heart of regulation and purchase decisions. For the investors, there is compelling evidence that corporate investment and improvements in ESG practices generate an ESG premium, and/or make companies more resilient in the face of crisis… Whether big or small, the rules of the game are being changed forever. The new era of stronger sustainability reporting comes along with multiple possible crossroads that companies must navigate and prepare for.”
An article in Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis critiqued how the EU ESG rating regulation shows limited coherence with wider EU sustainable finance framework. “The European Commission’s latest proposal to regulate environmental, social and governance rating activities does not explicitly adhere to the principle of double materiality—an approach that underpins the European Union’s broader sustainable finance regime… In IEEFA’s view, the lack of a coherent sustainable finance framework would lessen the proposed regulation’s effectiveness in addressing ESG rating activities’ shortcomings and suitability for fulfilling the European Green Deal objectives… New rules covering areas such as organisational structure, processes and transparency appear to be a breakthrough, but IEEFA notes a series of recommendations for improvement.”
An article in ING examined how the US is slowly catching up with Europe on ESG and climate policies. “The US and EU are both heading toward tougher regulations on ESG disclosure and standardisation. But there is a contrast between the difficulties America is facing in establishing Environmental, Social and Governance regulations versus the progress made in Europe… In the US, despite the Biden administration’s and SE’s efforts to mandate ESG-related disclosure for eligible listed companies, the country faces a fragmented policy environment, both at the federal and the state levels, where anti-ESG movements have been on the rise. This may lead to longer timeframes for ESG policy implementation or even the reversal of already-established policies, which will add uncertainties and risks to investors and companies… That said, there is still hope for the US to catch up with the EU in terms of ESG regulation; the biggest concern is that the progress will not happen as fast.”
India’s Chandrayaan-3 Becomes First Probe to Land Near Lunar South Pole
Two robots from India — a lander named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan — landed in the southern polar region of the moon on 23rd August 2023. The two robots, from a mission named Chandrayaan-3, make India the first country to ever reach this part of the lunar surface in one piece — and only the fourth country ever to land on the moon. Media coverage sought to explore reactions on the historic achievement as well as the implications on Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) future expeditions.
An article in Business Line covered how the US hailed India on the moon landing and was proud to be its partner. “American politicians, newspapers and space research institutions hailed India Wednesday on the successful Moon landing of Chandrayaan-3 as the country entered the elite club of three other nations — United States, Russia and China — that have a rover on the lunar surface…“"It is an incredible feat for all the scientists and engineers involved. We are proud to partner with you on this mission and space exploration more broadly”" said Harris, whose mother was from India. The Vice President heads the National Space Council… Space cooperation was one of the major topics of discussion during Prime Minister Narendra Mod’'s State visit to the US this summer. India signed the Artemis accord, and also the two countries decided to work together on an international space station.”
An op-ed article in CNN focussed on how India’s moon landing shines an uncomfortable light on Russia’s failures. “The milestone marks a huge accomplishment for its nascent space program, which has made steady progress over the years. I expect future success to follow: Delhi has shown it is committed to making significant investments in space exploration efforts… Russian President Vladimir Putin is the latest in a long line of leaders to attempt to use a successful space venture to reflect his nation’s greatness. Putin had hoped this week to bask in the glow of a successful landing of the Russian Luna-25 moon lander… Russia won the race but lost the game: A malfunction caused Luna-25 to crash instead of soft-land on the lunar surface. Had it been successful, Luna-25 doubtless would have been touted as “proof” that Russia was still a great nation, despite its setbacks in its disastrous war in Ukraine… Russia’s bedraggled space program mirrors the state of the nation itself, including the surprisingly poor performance of the Russian military in its war on Ukraine. Instead of making his nation a “great power” again, Putin has shown the world just how badly Russia is in decline. The lamentable state of Moscow’s space program is just the latest confirmation of that.”
Finally, an article in CNBC commented on India’s mission to study the sun, just days after successful moon landing. “Days after India’s successful moon mission, the country is now setting its sights on the sun. According to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the Aditya-L1 spacecraft will be launched from the Sriharikota Spaceport on Sept. 2 in a bid to study the sun and its effect on space weather. Aditya, which refers to the sun in Hindi, is to be placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 of the Sun-Earth system, where the sun can be observed without any obstructions, an ISRO report stated… The launch will mark India’s first space-based observatory to study the sun, and would offer a “major advantage of continuously viewing the sun without any occultation or eclipses,” the ISRO report stated.”
The Global Rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence is fast encroaching upon every area of our lives, and it seems like there’s no stopping it. This technology is proving particularly game-changing in the world of business, where it’s enabling data-driven decision-making, automation, and improved customer experiences. In August 2023, media coverage sought to explore the latest inventions in AI by leading tech giants like Meta, YouTube and Anthropic, a rival of OpenAI.
An article in Financial Times explored how Meta is set to introduce AI-powered chatbots with distinct personalities. “Meta Platforms, the social media giant based in Menlo Park, California, is gearing up to introduce a fascinating lineup of AI-powered chatbots, each with its distinct personality… the company has been actively working on prototypes of chatbots that can engage in human-like conversations with users. This move is seen as an effort to enhance user engagement across its social media platforms… Among the most intriguing aspects of this project is the diverse range of personalities the chatbots will adopt. For instance, they are exploring a chatbot designed to speak like the iconic Abraham Lincoln, offering historical insights and wisdom in the President's distinctive style. Additionally, there's another chatbot that adopts the persona of a laid-back surfer, providing advice on travel options with a cool and relaxed demeanour.”
Another article in Tech Times covered how YouTube aims to take the viewing experience to the next level by experimenting with the use of AI in composing video summaries automatically. “These AI-generated summaries will provide viewers with a quick description of a film's contents… The feature will make it simpler for viewers to evaluate whether a video matches their interests before viewing the full version… Moreover, when watched on mobile devices, YouTube's AI-generated summaries will be accessible for English-language vlogs, shopping, and how-to videos… Although AI-generated summaries have been introduced, YouTube notes that these summaries will not take the place of the video descriptions given by content producers. Instead, they will act as supplemental summaries to speed up viewers' ability to decide if a video is relevant to their interests.”
Finally, an article in CNBC focussed on how Anthropic, the US$4.1 billion rival of OpenAI, debuted its new AI chatbox called Claude 2. “There’s a new entrant in the budding AI arms race. As Microsoft-backed OpenAI and Google race to develop the most advanced chatbots, powered by generative artificial intelligence, Anthropic is investing heavily to keep up. Just a few months after raising $750 million over two financing rounds, the startup is debuting a new AI chatbot: Claude 2… The company says Claude 2 has the ability to summarize up to about 75,000 words, which could be the length of a book. Users can input large data sets, and ask for summaries in the form of a memo, letter or story. ChatGPT, by contrast, can handle about 3,000 words… Anthropic has invested at least two months in developing Claude 2, with a team of 30 to 35 people working directly on the AI model and a total of 150 people supporting it. She said the market is growing so rapidly that there’s plenty of room for multiple players to succeed.”
Pointing to the Future
Key insights and forecasts that show us what is to come
How AI-Powered Software Development May Affect Labor Markets.
Generative AI tools are increasingly being integrated into professional workflows and business applications. This raises questions of how such tools will affect the productivity of workers and labor demand.
Unleashing Possibilities, Ignoring Risks: Why We Need Tools To Manage AI’s Impact On Jobs.
The recent advancements in Large Language Model-based systems (LLMs) such as ChatGPT have generated immense excitement for the possibilities they offer. However, these developments have also triggered renewed concerns about job displacement and the potential decline of human labor demand in a wide variety of occupations.
Africa’s Sovereign Finance Toolbox: Building Resilience For A Sustainable Future.
Africa has been greatly impacted by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The war in Ukraine, surging global inflation, and rising interest rates have put further pressure on African government.
Africa’s Blue Economy Can Continue To Deliver Huge Benefits To The Continent.
The Blue Economy (BE) consists of economic activities taking place below, on, or adjacent to the ocean, or aquatic systems more generally. These activities include subsistence and commercial fishing, as well as emerging sectors such as renewable energy and blue carbon.
The Future of Dollar Hegemony.
The United States has benefited from the dollar’s dominance of global markets for decades. Washington should be wary of squandering those benefits through political infighting and reckless policymaking.
The State of Democracy in Southeast Asia Is Bad and Getting Worse.
Southeast Asia’s continued democratic backsliding may hurt its economic development, even at a time when it could otherwise profit from China’s severe domestic problems.
BRICS Is Getting 6 New Members.
Six countries are set to join Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa in the BRICS economic bloc from next year, the bloc announced Thursday, a move that will likely throw more scrutiny on Beijing’s political influence on the world stage.
Changing Thailand: New Ideology, Old Politics – The Diplomat.
The overwhelming votes for the MFP in the election highlight a clear ideological divide and the mainstreaming of a hitherto radical stance among the Thais.
Kazakhstan Seeks New Energy Export Routes.
Kazakhstan recently expressed concerns about the security of the Russian Port of Novorossiysk, which Astana uses to export most of its oil.
Prigozhin May Be Dead, But Putin’s Position Remains Uncertain.
The assassination of Wagner’s leader removes a domestic threat. But it does not repair the damage done to Putin’s international position by the June mutiny.
Squeezing China will Squeeze America.
U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order the other day on establishing mechanisms for outbound investment screening. He imposed restrictions on investments by Americans in Chinese semiconductors and microelectronics, quantum information technology and artificial intelligence sectors.
The Danger in Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees.
The approval of China has declined amongst select members of countries that could best be described as belonging to the “Global South,” and the extent to which this is indicative of global attitudes on China remains to be established.
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.