Dr. Frank speaks on In­dian Econ­omy, De­vel­op­ment, Glob­al­iza­tion & Trade

Business Sphere - - DR. FRANK- JÜRGEN RICHTER - By Deepak Khattar, Bureau Chief

Dr. Frank-Jür­gen Richter, Chair­man of Ho­ra­sis says Mr Modi, from day one as Prime Min­is­ter, has courted over­seas in­vest­ment and has be­come an in­te­gral mem­ber of Asian and Cen­tral Asian fo­rum that ex­tends to other lead­ers the aims and as­pi­ra­tions of Mr Modi and of In­dia Inc. Ex­ter­nal links are ten­u­ous and de­mand a strong home base. Ini­tially In­dia did not have this, but now its mid­dle class and its in­ter­re­gional trade is flow­ing (in part due to GST and the wish of State Min­is­ters to co­here and fol­low the Make in In­dia phi­los­o­phy).

In­ter­view of Mr. Deepak Khattar, Bureau Chief with Dr. Frank-Jür­gen Richter, Chair­man of Ho­ra­sis. Busi­ness Sphere (BS): In the con­text of the glob­al­iza­tion, what are your views on the di­ver­sity in a work­place in most com­pa­nies th­ese days? Since the em­ploy­ees can come from lit­er­ally any part of the world, is it a chal­lenge to man­age the di­ver­sity of cul­ture in any given work en­vi­ron­ment? Dr. Frank-Jür­gen Richter (DFR): There has of­ten been a divi­sion of labour – women clean­ing and salt­ing fish in the har­bour build­ings while the men were at sea catch­ing the fish, for in­stance. But is modern, mass pro­duc­tion we tend to think that a man or a woman could un­der­take any job – but men of­ten re­sist that no­tion. In Europe dur­ing the last World War it was nec­es­sary for women to take over many of the jobs once un­der­taken by the men now were con­scripted to mil­i­tary ser­vice: af­ter the war the men re­turned dis­grun­tled to find women do­ing ‘their right­ful’ jobs. Cu­ri­ously in modern mil­i­tary ser­vice many Gen­er­als refuse to al­low women serve on the front line: we have a strange asym­me­try when con­sid­er­ing in­clu­sive­ness and di­ver­sity. I feel given equal ed­u­ca­tion men and women usu­ally qual­ify equally – though some­times there is a rea­son­able ar­gu­ment that ‘in gen­eral’ as men are of­ten stronger than women that may be more fit­ting for cer­tain jobs, like fire fight­ers. But this is not an ab­so­lute ar­gu­ment. In the busi­ness con­text there has to be equal­ity. A sec­ond dif­fer­ence arises from cul­tural clashes. We have all been raised, first at home, then in our lo­cal schools and col­leges. Then po­ten­tially we might be fur­ther ed­u­cated in a dif­fer­ent nation’s univer­sity when we will fully meet mul­ti­ple cul­tures and at­ti­tudes dif­fer­ent from our own. Then we learn that when hurt ei­ther phys­i­cally or men­tally we re­act dif­fer­ently, po­ten­tially with alarm­ing dif­fer­ences. It is then we must learn to un­der­stand why we need to com­pro­mise while study­ing our own re­ac­tions. One role of the CEO is to men­tor and teach his/her staff how to be­have. To set the rules and ex­plain why th­ese need to be fol­lowed in or­der to bring har­mony and trust to the work­place. This is chal­leng­ing in multi-na­tional firms who must not only em­ploy the well-ed­u­cated, but en­sure th­ese peo­ple are not preda­tors

in any sense on other staff: hence my sug­ges­tion that the CEOs must lead the men­tor­ing of be­hav­iours. All na­tions have their cul­tural iden­ti­ties which are dis­played when an­gry or frus­trated, and in­di­vid­u­als will gang to­gether to pro­vide ‘sol­i­dar­ity’ to right any per­ceived wrongs de­rived from cul­tural or gen­der dif­fer­ences. BS: Which are the chal­lenges which lead­ers of com­pa­nies face in the present day en­vi­ron­ment when job-hop­ping is a very com­mon phe­nom­e­non? What are the var­i­ous mea­sures which can be taken by com­pa­nies to re­duce em­ployee at­tri­tion? DFR: I hinted above that firms of each nation carry a na­tional cul­ture ob­serv­able it its staff’s be­hav­iour. This at­ti­tude has been seen to grate upon the take-over firms, ini­tially ob­served widely in the 1970s on­wards when Ja­panese firms ex­panded into the US and Europe. It took maybe five years for lo­cal staff to ap­pre­ci­ate and work with their Ja­panese se­nior staff as the cul­ture of Ja­pan and thus its work­place be­hav­iour and ex­pec­ta­tions was greatly dif­fer­ent from the av­er­age US or Euro­pean firm. Un­til one lives with such dif­fer­ences day by day and thus learns of the frus­tra­tion of be­ing un­able to guess why one’s col­leagues re­act as they do the un­der­stand­ing of the sit­u­a­tion is merely an aca­demic ex­er­cise: the ac­cul­tur­al­i­sa­tion is lengthy. Tak­ing ed­u­ca­tional cour­ses in other na­tions, work­ing for multi-na­tional firms and re­ceiv­ing di­rected job ro­ta­tions all con­trib­ute to one’s mul­ti­cul­tural skills; and so does a flu­ency in other lan­guages. A con­cerned Hu­man Re­source de­part­ment will en­sure that job ro­ta­tion does not lead to at­tri­tion which be­comes a costly out­come as a new staff will re­quire re­train­ing. Again, re­fer­ring to the Ja­panese multi-na­tions of the 1970s on­wards, their HR de­part­ments guided their se­nior staff through mul­ti­ple ap­point­ments in their sub­sidiaries in dif­fer­ent na­tions while all the time giv­ing them pro­mo­tions – both abroad and in in­ter­mit­tent so­journs back in Ja­pan. It is not a per­fect, nor only solution, but the [anony­mous] firm and the [per­sonal] in­di­vid­ual must con­fer about joint de­vel­op­ment to fit the in­di­vid­ual’s skills to the firm’s needs. It is vi­tal in th­ese modern times of

highly in­te­grated glob­al­i­sa­tion to en­sure our staffs un­der­stand each other’s nu­ances. Thus in­ter-cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion and guided staff ro­ta­tions be­come a se­ri­ous con­cern – not only for western firms but in­creas­ingly for Asian firms in­vest­ing over­seas for the first time. BS: Em­ployee en­gage­ment is a term which is used very fre­quently th­ese days. The em­ploy­ees need to be en­gaged fruit­fully in what­ever they are do­ing for them to be sat­is­fied with their work pro­files? What can lead­ers of com­pa­nies do to en­sure healthy em­ployee en­gage­ment? DFR: Es­sen­tially to en­sure they match job de­scrip­tions with the em­ployee qual­i­fi­ca­tions. Too of­ten we find lazy job de­scrip­tions that de­mand a univer­sity de­gree for every task. This im­plies the se­nior man­age­ment have not thought through the needs of the jobs and its tasks – to ques­tion if a de­gree re­ally ful­fil the task needs: not every driver needs a PhD in as­tro­physics. Be­ing over-qual­i­fied leads to as many frus­tra­tions as un­der qual­i­fi­ca­tion when col­leagues note that they have to sup­port one too of­ten. It was a not too amus­ing con­cept de­rived by Lau­rence J. Peter, which ob­serves that peo­ple in a hi­er­ar­chy tend to rise to their "level of in­com­pe­tence". In other words, an em­ployee is pro­moted based on their suc­cess in pre­vi­ous jobs un­til they reach a level at which they are no longer com­pe­tent, as skills in one job do not nec­es­sar­ily trans­late to an­other. There­fore to an­swer the ques­tion – it is vi­tal the HR de­part­ment ed­u­cates the man­agers (ie the CEO) to not de­mand the high­est pos­si­ble aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions for each task and that the HR de­part­ment fully eval­u­ates each job open­ing to un­der­stand who could best fill the post and how that per­son might be de­vel­oped with fur­ther aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions or skill train­ing for the mu­tual ben­e­fit of the in­di­vid­ual and the firm. BS: Sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment is the call of the hour. We all know and un­der­stand this fully well. What are the mea­sures which com­pa­nies should take within their man­u­fac­tur­ing or even ser­vicere­lated cy­cles to en­sure sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment? DFR: Ac­tu­ally I am not sure all man­agers do un­der­stand ‘sus­tain­able’

or the con­cept of re­cy­cling through cra­dle-to-cra­dle pro­gram. Take the smart­phone as an ex­am­ple. Ac­cord­ing to Friends of the Earth and the Min­er­als Ed­u­ca­tion Coali­tion at least 70 of the 83 sta­ble and non­ra­dioac­tive elements in the pe­ri­odic ta­ble can be found in smart­phones. Some­thing like a to­tal of 62 dif­fer­ent types of met­als go into a hand­set, with rare earth met­als (a spe­cific set of elements in the pe­ri­odic ta­ble) play­ing an im­por­tant role. For in­stance, neodymium, ter­bium and dys­pro­sium help the phone vi­brate; and both ter­bium and dys­pro­sium are used in tiny quan­ti­ties in touch­screens to pro­duce their vi­brant colours. Th­ese elements are not nec­es­sar­ily ‘rare’ but are of­ten found highly dis­persed – they are dif­fi­cult to ex­tract and en­ergy-in­ten­sive to re­fine. Trash­ing in land-fill is not at all sus­tain­able. Thus cus­tomers (per­haps fol­low­ing fash­ion trends), ven­dors (try­ing to make a profit), and man­u­fac­tur­ers (re­quest­ing designers make their pro­cesses sim­ple) are all at fault – the minia­tur­i­sa­tion process means the com­po­nents can­not be eas­ily un­picked for re­cy­cling. And a clunky-look­ing phone would not sell. In fact the con­cept of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment de­rived from the Brundt­land Com­mis­sion of the United Na­tions on March 20, 1987 who quoted "sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment is de­vel­op­ment that meets the needs of the present without com­pro­mis­ing the abil­ity of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to meet their own needs.” And it is that com­mis­sion’s viewpoints that have led to many of to­day’s grum­bles against our gov­ern­ment’s im­po­si­tions about in­su­la­tion in homes and fac­to­ries, min­imis­ing waste, and be­ing “eco­log­i­cal”, etc. Thus ‘sus­tain­able’ has be­come so over-used that to some ex­tent it has be­come mean­ing­less. The con­cept is not mean­ing­less how­ever. And to meet its ob­jec­tives com­pa­nies must care­fully an­a­lyse all its op­er­a­tions from ac­qui­si­tion of feed-stocks (and to ques­tion if its sup­pli­ers also fol­low sus­tain­abil­ity con­cepts), the de­sign of the firm’s goods to al­low end-of-life re­cy­cling, the re­cy­cling of re­sources in the firm as well as min­imis­ing en­ergy use, and mov­ing the goods to cus­tomers must be done us­ing lo­gis­tics providers who are sus­tain­able. BS: The en­tire ethos be­hind

cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity seems very im­por­tant for com­pa­nies to have a good rep­u­ta­tion in their cho­sen niche arena of op­er­a­tions th­ese days. What is your take on CSR and the role it as­sumes in the con­text of do­ing busi­ness? DFR: I feel that CSR, like ‘sus­tain­abil­ity’, has been overused. And as above, CSR is a very use­ful con­cept and when prac­ticed care­fully en­sures a firm through its nor­mal busi­ness op­er­ates in ways that en­hances so­ci­ety and the en­vi­ron­ment rather than hav­ing a neg­a­tive im­pact. The firm ‘Star­bucks’ is of­ten cites as a great ex­am­ple of CSR in prac­tice as it sources eth­i­cally costed cof­fee from its global net­work of farm­ers, it has cre­ated col­leges for its em­ploy­ees and hires mi­grants of­fer­ing the re­al­ity of a job rather than only hope as well as re­duc­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of its de­tailed op­er­a­tions. But rather like my re­sponse to Q1 and Q2 above, CSR is cul­ture de­pen­dant and thus de­mands a global ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram to en­sure its even ap­pli­ca­tion ac­cord­ing to the ethics of each multi­na­tional firm. This is echoed by the In­ter­na­tional Stan­dard ISO 26000 that of­fers guid­ance on CSR rather than rules to en­able ef­fec­tive ap­pli­ca­tions in dif­fer­ent parts of the globe. I wrote sev­eral years ago “CSR – a vir­tu­ous cir­cle. But which cir­cle? And whose ‘virtue’?”Such thoughts are still ap­pli­ca­ble. BS: Kindly give us a snap­shot of Ho­ra­sis and its vi­sion, mis­sion state­ment, and ba­sic goal for the near fu­ture? DFR: The Ho­ra­sis Global Meet­ing hopes that the dis­cus­sions by gov­ern­ment lead­ers, CEOs of multi-na­tional en­ter­prises and civic lead­ers will cre­ate a ‘road-map’ to out­line po­ten­tial ways for­ward that will ‘In­spire our Fu­ture’. Many of th­ese lead­ers have a long his­tory of gov­ern­ing through tur­bu­lent times as they have honed their skills in high­level jobs in firms lo­cated across the globe. They un­der­stand in­cli­na­tions to­wards pro­tec­tion­ism, com­par­a­tive ad­van­tage and sys­temic plan­ning for the long-term while work­ing in the here-and-now in a va­ri­ety of cul­tures, each with their norms and geo-po­lit­i­cal ex­pec­ta­tions. Th­ese lead­ers are not pas­sive en­ti­ties, and I hope to­gether they will cre­ate an In­spir­ing fu­ture View­point de­vel­oped

from their in­ter­ac­tions in the Ho­ra­sis meet­ings. Many of our par­tic­i­pants at­tend on a yearly ba­sis – the meet­ing is an in­te­gral part of their an­nual sched­ule. We are proud to say that our net­work is grow­ing – more and more reg­u­lar par­tic­i­pants rec­om­mend oth­ers to be in­vited. They ap­pre­ci­ate the net­work­ing, we feel the mo­men­tum. We want to be­come the fore­most gath­er­ing of global busi­ness lead­ers and em­i­nent gov­ern­ment lead­ers. We would like to cre­ate im­pact – not through rev­o­lu­tion (though some­times an idea might do just that) but by dis­cus­sions that ed­u­cate and which also draw to­gether for­mer op­po­nents. The world has too many ac­tive con­flict zones – th­ese we can’t halt. But we have a great op­por­tu­nity through our ac­tive net­work of gov­ern­ment lead­ers, thought lead­ers in in­dus­try, com­merce, and in the re­li­gious es­tab­lish­ment to bend ears and at­ti­tudes. It is a slow process but I be­lieve we can pre­vail and help to de­velop a richer, more so­cially aware and peace­ful so­ci­ety. Our de­sired out­come is not one of ‘least con­tro­ver­sial’ or ‘low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor’ but one that ab­sorbs and celebrates the cul­tural and geo-politic dif­fer­ences that abound. Many in­ter­na­tional play­ers will be rep­re­sented at the Global Meet­ing - they are ca­pa­ble to hear­ing and un­der­stand­ing the many ar­gu­ments. Let us hope that a sin­gle pre­dom­i­nantly na­tional re­sponse is not the out­come posited to ‘In­spire our Fu­ture’ as we are the peo­ple of the world and a global re­sponse is needed. We must find a solution to short-ter­mism. Post-Modernism is deemed passé in lit­er­a­ture and the plas­tic arts, but I think the time is ripe for that con­cept to be ap­plied to to­day’s glob­al­i­sa­tion. A new form and struc­ture for glob­al­i­sa­tion is needed, and it will thrive on the 5G net­works, the In­ter­net of Things (IoT) with the aid of Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence (AI) and ro­bot­ics. It is in this sense that we will ap­proach the 2019 Global Meet­ing theme ‘Catalysing the Ben­e­fits of Glob­al­i­sa­tion’. In ef­fect, that meet­ing will ex­plore the De­con­struc­tion and the Syn­the­sis­ing of an emer­gent form of Glob­al­i­sa­tion. BS: What are your views on the

cur­rent trade sce­nario in In­dia and in this part of the world in gen­eral? Are the ini­tia­tives taken by the In­dian Prime Min­ster, Mr. Naren­dra Modi, enough or fruit­ful at all? You may have a spe­cific point of view to share with us on the GST regime etc.? DFR: In the re­cent past In­dia has not had a high de­mand for re­sources not avail­able across its own ter­ri­tory, nor has it had a vast ex­ter­nal trade with ex-colonies. Now, as the world has be­come more in­ter­con­nected through glob­al­i­sa­tion, In­dia and its peo­ple have be­come a force to be reck­oned with. As I have men­tioned above its young di­as­pora are play­ing a strong role in sup­port­ing en­trepreneur­ship in the US and in Europe. It has a few glob­ally recog­nised man­u­fac­tur­ing and ser­vice in­dus­try firms but it needs even stronger trade and knowl­edge links. Mr Modi, from day one as Prime Min­is­ter, has courted over­seas in­vest­ment and has be­come an in­te­gral mem­ber of Asian and Cen­tral Asian fo­rum that ex­tends to other lead­ers the aims and as­pi­ra­tions of Mr Modi and of In­dia Inc. Ex­ter­nal links are ten­u­ous and de­mand a strong home base. Ini­tially In­dia did not have this, but now its mid­dle class and its in­ter-re­gional trade is flow­ing (in part due to GST and the wish of State Min­is­ters to co­here and fol­low the Make in In­dia phi­los­o­phy). Now, from this in­creas­ing strength over­seas links will be de­vel­oped. We see this in the Africa/In­dia/ Ja­pan trade axis – oth­ers will fol­low across Asia to act as a coun­ter­bal­ance against China’s present trade thrusts. It is too early to say, but it is pos­si­ble that In­dia will form a bul­wark of demo­cratic ideas across the Asian re­gion and though its con­tin­ued growth will be able to show that democ­racy works, even for nation with a mas­sive pop­u­la­tion. BS: What does glob­al­iza­tion mean for you? In real terms, how has it played a role in chang­ing the face of busi­ness op­er­a­tions the world over? Are th­ese changes wel­come or they are just some spoofs which we have been see­ing over the years and are soon go­ing to fade into obliv­ion? DFR: ‘Glob­al­i­sa­tion’ is an over­ar­ch­ing and over-used word car­ry­ing lit­tle pre­ci­sion – yet it pro­vides a very use­ful ver­bal sum­mary of all as­pects of get­ting goods or ser­vices to the

con­sumer. Pre-modern glob­al­i­sa­tion was founded by the In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion that called for in­te­grated sup­ply and dis­tri­bu­tion chains across a re­gion, na­tion­ally, and even cross-bor­der that was based on in­creas­ing stan­dard­i­s­a­tion of parts. No mat­ter where it was made a nut would fit a bolt, and a ploughshare would mate with a shaft. How­ever, truly modern glob­al­i­sa­tion only oc­curred af­ter World War Two when con­tainer­i­sa­tion was in­vented and sup­ply chains be­came more se­cure with global reach. But what is ‘glob­al­i­sa­tion’? It is an ag­gre­ga­tion of all the as­pects of sup­ply chains link­ing min­eral ex­trac­tion to re­fin­ers, then to fab­ri­ca­tors of sub-as­sem­blies, as­sem­blers, and goods fi­nally move on­wards to the end con­sumers. At each stage there are bro­kers and traders en­sur­ing prod­ucts are bought and sold priced to mar­ket. That is one line of com­plex­ity. Other as­pects re­fer to the Laws and Reg­u­la­tions per­tain­ing to qual­ity, ver­i­fi­ca­tion of own­er­ship, insurance, and so on. And there is the fur­ther com­plex­ity of the bank­ing and fi­nance in­dus­try, of­ten nowa­days in this dig­i­tal age re­ferred to as FinTech, that greases the wheels of trade at each stage and guar­an­tees pay­ments. ‘Glob­al­i­sa­tion’ is in ef­fect the to­tal con­cept: the cy­cle from con­sumer de­mand upon raw ma­te­ri­als ex­trac­tion to the de­liv­ery of fin­ished goods to the con­sumer. This is too much to de­scribe fre­quently, at length – so ‘glob­al­i­sa­tion’ has be­come the word of the day, no mat­ter if it de­scribes phys­i­cal goods or ser­vices. ‘Glob­al­i­sa­tion’ as a con­cept is not a ‘spoof’ nor is it so in prac­tice. But it cre­ates its own dif­fi­culty as there seems to be no be­gin­ning or end – like the snake eat­ing its own tail: the Ouroboros of the an­cient Egyp­tians sym­bol­ised in­fin­ity or cycli­cal­ity just as modern glob­al­i­sa­tion be­gins from raw ma­te­ri­als to con­sump­tion and on to re­cy­cling. In modern times glob­al­i­sa­tion aids sus­tain­able man­age­ment by pro­mot­ing those who can make what we need more ef­fec­tively than our­selves: why rein­vent wheels? BS: Which are the essen­tial fac­tors for do­ing good busi­ness? What is the mes­sage you would like to give bud­ding en­trepreneurs about the nu­ances which they should keep in mind be­fore they delve into the world of busi­ness? DFR: Hon­est busi­ness plans must be at the heart of the en­trepreneurs’ busi­ness. A great idea, if not fi­nanced will at­ro­phy and it will not be a target for a take-over (that many in­ven­tors de­sire to make a pile of cash, show­ing they had good ideas). The busi­ness plan al­lows fi­nanciers – ‘An­gel fi­nanciers’ through to Banks – to gain agood im­pres­sion of the in­no­va­tion, its stand­ing in its fu­ture com­pet­i­tive world and to un­der­stand how the en­tre­pre­neur will ramp up growth. Without a busi­ness plan the ideas will not be un­der­stood by the fi­nan­cial sec­tor, and they will not in­vest. Nat­u­rally the in­no­va­tor ought to have scanned the globe via the In­ter­net and via friends to see if there are com­pet­ing prod­ucts. As I noted above – don’t rein­vent wheels (un­less they are in­no­va­tive de­vel­op­ments, of course). BS: Start-ups seem to be the key to eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment of In­dia to­day? Wher­ever one goes, one hears of start-ups and the role they are play­ing in mak­ing our econ­omy sound and more up­beat. What do you think of the pos­si­ble fu­ture which the start-ups face? More im­por­tantly, how do we stand to gain or lose due to them as per eco­nomic is­sues? DFR: Start-ups ev­ery­where are the ba­sis of new in­dus­tries or ser­vices. But for every 1000 only one or two live be­yond their early days, and fewer still sur­vive to ma­tu­rity. And in all economies the vast ma­jor­ity of firms are sin­gle per­son (the owner) or have few em­ploy­ees (five or less): but it is th­ese firms that feed the larger with part-fin­ished ob­jects, even the lo­cal branches of multi-nationals that give ul­ti­mately a strong eco­nomic im­age of the nation. All start-ups face hur­dles – pre­sent­ing the ideas to fi­nanciers, form-fill­ing, be­ing tested by the Health & Safety ex­ec­u­tive or sim­i­lar, tested by the tax of­fices to en­sure the cor­rect wages and cash flows are be­ing ac­counted for… there is a vast amount of work de­manded that is not di­rectly as­so­ci­ated with man­u­fac­tur­ing. The low num­ber of em­ploy­ees can be­come con­fused by the va­ri­ety of de­mands and their out­put qual­ity de­crease.It is nec­es­sary, as Mr Modi has done, to re­duce un­needed form-fill­ing and to al­ter the at­ti­tude of bu­reau­crats to be­come help­ful to­wards the startup rather than con­sider it a nui­sance – again this is what Mr Modi has de­manded of his gov­ern­ment of­fi­cers. The gen­eral econ­omy is of con­cern to the start-up as their pay­ments for work done de­pends on the vi­a­bil­ity of larger firms lo­cated up the pro­duc­tion cy­cle. If there is a re­ces­sion large firm don’t have the cash to pay the smaller – or they de­lay pay­ment to in­flate their own bank bal­ances. The start-up does not get cash – fails to pay its own sup­pli­ers and work­ers and be­comes bank­rupt. Th­ese are the first fail­ures of the re­ces­sion, not the big firms. And such fail­ures can cross na­tional board­ers in this glob­alised world with long-dis­tance com­mod­ity and cash flows – a fail­ure in one nation will af­fect the small scale start-up as cash flows slow. In th­ese cases it is nec­es­sary for banks to look sym­pa­thet­i­cally on of­fer­ing tem­po­rary loans – but their of­fi­cers must re­al­is­ti­cally as­sess risk and take hard de­ci­sions. BS: As far as In­dia is con­cerned, what do you vi­su­al­ize about our eco­nomic fu­ture in the next five years? Also, the In­dian Lok Sabha elec­tions are due next year, do you think the Prime Min­ster will be re­elected for an­other term? Why, or why not? DFR: I have held In­dia-fo­cused meet­ings for 10 years. In the early years we be­came in­ured to many In­dian politi­cians and busi­ness peo­ple stat­ing “In­dia is grow­ing, just give us time”. Dur­ing the 10th meet­ing in Malaga there was a pal­pa­ble change – In­dia is seen to be emerg­ing. There was a feel­ing, both qual­i­ta­tively and quan­ti­ta­tively that its hopes are now be­ing trans­lated into re­al­i­ties. This is ap­par­ent, not only at gov­ern­ment and busi­ness lev­els, but at lower lev­els of its so­ci­ety as it has be­come sup­ported by the vast digi­ti­sa­tion changes or­dered by Mr Modi. How­ever, in line with all democ­ra­cies, the ini­tial pos­i­tive sup­port for the Prime Min­is­ter has fallen as time pro­gressed dur­ing the par­lia­men­tary cy­cle. Some think Mr Modi might have to search for a coali­tion to con­tinue as leader. I can­not fore­cast the elec­tion out­come next year – but I hope Mr Modi re­mains as leader to ful­fil new ef­forts to bring In­dia to the fore­front of the global econ­omy.

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