Last December, I wrote about how winning in India, would mean winning in the world and the role of India2022, a purpose-driven coalition aiming to create a new model of growth by 2022, the 75th year of India's independence. Today, almost a year later I sit down to reflect on the India2022 coalition after our recent executive committee meeting. At a time of such global turbulence, I believe the global role of India has taken on new significance. With the United States pursuing trade wars with the rest of the world and with Europe embroiled in internal politics, the role of Asia in shaping the global economy has never been greater. For India, this is an unprecedented opportunity to chart a different route to growth – one that leapfrogs the historical course of the West and exemplifies a democratic model of development and growth as an alternative to the Chinese model. The role of business is crucial in enabling this. That is why it is so heartening – and such a privilege – to be able to be part of a conversation with some of the leading, most visionary business leaders of India on how we can work together to advance that new growth model. In April this year, we had our first Xynteo Exchange/India2022, an event where over 300 leaders from business, the start-up community, academia, research institutions and government came to collaborate and develop ideas for a more sustainable way of doing business. The focus for that Exchange was on ideation – developing new ideas for interventions and projects that would drive a new growth model. In the six months since, I am delighted to see those ideas starting to materialise into actual projects. We have made steady progress across all our four impact tracks — waste to value, energise, healthcare and sustainable mining. Catalyst teams – select groups of some of the most talented individuals in each of our partner companies – reported on the excellent progress being made.
- The energise impact track, led by Shell and supported by TechnipFMC and Baker Hughes, a GE Company, had generated 36 ideas which have subsequently been analysed and investigated. These ideas are now being refined into project propositions in a range of areas including integrated energy systems, bio-CNG, integrated solutions for rural and plastic-handling technologies.
- The waste to value impact track, led by HUL, will soon launch a pilot project in Mumbai aiming to encourage responsible consumer behaviour towards plastic-waste disposal.
- The healthcare impact track, led by Cyient, are developing MedTech connect – a digital platform to support affordable healthcare innovations that can be commercialised.
- The sustainable mining impact track, led by Hindalco from the Aditya Birla Group, is working on defining a set of best-in-class sustainable practices for mining in India and building the model in the state of Chhattisgarh.
These are very exciting times for the India2022 coalition and we are making good progress but the challenges we are aiming to address are systems challenges. They demand bold leadership, learning and adaptation across companies, sectors and stakeholder groups. Collaboration is hard – it involves bringing together people from different organisations and cultures, and building them into an effective fighting force with its own distinct character, identity and purpose. We need to be ready to tackle open-ended, messy problems that are a world away from the order that typifies the inner structure of corporations and bureaucracies. India2022's ambition is to demonstrate that this kind of growth is possible, not just for India but for the world. I personally believe that the timing is right for this. We see India's important role as a global leader in the world as a source of distinct value. The time has come for India to lead from the front and the world is watching – and hoping. It was fantastic that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, together with President Macron of France, were awarded the UN "Champions of the Earth" award — UN's highest environmental honour — in recognition of their work on the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The ISA might become a proof point that a new model of growth is possible. And India is likely to become a crucial country to demonstrate that decreasing pollution and creating millions of new jobs in future-fit industries is possible. To quote Mahatma Gandhi on his birth anniversary, let us remember that India can lead the way and "be the change you wish to see in the world". The featured image includes India2022 Executive Committee and Advisory Board members at the Xynteo Exchange/India2022 held in April 2018.