An Indian voyage with huge significance for Australia

As a boy who grew up in the bylanes of a Tier 2 city in India, I always wondered how businesses and people operated in other cities, countries and continents. It was only when I first read the story of a famous India author’s visit to Australia that I became keen learn more about this unique island nation.  

Cricket was traditionally the main cultural connect between the two democratic nations for most Indians. The reason for this? The lack of presence of any major Australian organisations in India. Even when emerging India opened its economy for global investors in 1991, a major Australian name was always missing.

With a role in setting up Deloitte Australia’s soon-to-be launched India Services Group, and attending the recent Deloitte-sponsored Australian Financial Review India Business Summit, I wanted to understand more about the cultural, business and economic interests between the nations, and help unravel opportunities to improve trade relationships.

The event had all the key ingredients of an Indian masala meal.

Government representatives were the mustard in oil providing the bases. Industry bodies were layers of onion that build the crux of the dish. Business representatives were like the colourful vegetables that provide the vital nutrients. Thought leaders were the masala for garnish to attract and channel opportunities. And education sector representatives provided a refreshing dessert that rounded off an exotic meal.

Like a grand Indian fest, the platter had more to offer

We also got to hear many success stories of large business, start-ups and trade relationships that formed the sizeable a la cart of an Indian meal. But, like a grand Indian fest, you also knew the platter had more to offer. The pitches by His Excellency President of India Ram Nath Kovind, and the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison, to the business community certainly helped highlight the importance of the dialogue that took place across the day’s panel discussions.

1. Synergies

Apart from being successful democracies, both nations love their cricket, which is richly embedded in their cultures. But sport aside, Australia is resources rich, while India has growing need of resources to cater to its burgeoning middle class. India will have more than 200+ million enter its workforce in next 10 years, and most will require better standards of education, which well-equipped Australian universities can help to deliver. More than 700,000 Australian people identify themselves to be from India, and being the second highest contributor in Australian tax payments.

2. Economic activity

India has taken giant strides in implementing some path breaking economic reforms in recent years. It recently implemented a unified national Goods and Services Tax (GST), complicated and multiple tax treatment are increasingly a thing of the past.  The bankruptcy code provides greater liberty for market testing and new business entry, greatly contributing to improvement in new start-ups and FDI investments.  The metric that global businesses used to measure market entry and growth in business activity is the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. And India in last few years set out a focused approach to improving its ranking here, and moved from 142 in 2014, to 77 in 2018. (Source: World Bank) As a young Indian, I belong to the largest group of global business decision makers. India is expected to be the fastest growing economy in the world over the next 20 years (Source: International Monetary Fund), and in Q1 2018-19, I grew at an impressive 8.2%, beating market expectations.

3. Present partnerships and the road ahead

The Indian and Australian governments are working to enable and catapult trade relationships to new levels. As highlighted by in Peter Varghese’s India Economic Strategy 20135:  “No other country provides greater opportunity for growth than India for the next 20 years”.

But there are multiple other strategic relationship building between the nations, including working towards a free trade pact and quadrilateral strategic collaboration within the region

India has arrived, and no other country provides greater opportunity for growth

There was commitment by Ambassador Anil Wadhwa, (Chairman, CII task force on Australia Economic Strategy, India) that India will provide a comprehensive economic strategy with Australia that compliments the Varghese work and Future Asia Policy. This can complement the growing requests by businesses and industry bodies to improve relationships with India, or risk being left behind.


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