Geopolitics experts list out four areas where India must invest in to lead in the post-COVID world

Representative image: Four sectors where India must invest to lead the world in the post-coronavirus eraUnsplash
  • The coronavirus pandemic is causing a shift in global power dynamics, leaving India with a window of opportunity that’s ripe for the taking.
  • India’s dominance in biotechnology, clean and sustainable solutions in power, and its abundance of labour are factors that play in its favour.
  • India already has a headstart on all four basic needs of the post-COVID world provided it can build up its capabilities quickly.
The coronavirus crisis is changing the global dynamics of power and where India stands in the global pecking order depends on the relevance of what it has to offer to the post-COVID world.

China gained prominence in the last few decades by investing in manufacturing and infrastructure. It became the seller of first choice for consuming countries like the US and Europe and the buyer of last resort for commodity-exporting countries like Australia and those in Africa, aside from being an attractive destination for foreign investors.

However, the coronavirus crisis will change some of the fundamental requirements of global economies and the ‘new normal’ will throw up new opportunities.

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So Business Insider spoke to Samir Saran, President of Observer Research Foundation (ORF), and Parag Khanna, Managing Partner of FutureMap, as part of its special series ‘The Big Reset’ in partnership with the ORF to discuss the new sectors where India should invest in a to attract the flow of funds that are going to open up in the post-COVID world.


Here’s the list:

Biotechnology and medicines

India is already halfway there to position itself as the world’s biggest generic drugs supplier. “No one asked India to do this and yet did not ask it to be put in this role, but India is handling this very well,” said Khanna.
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Now, it is time to scale up and innovate. “It [India] is going to be an SDG superpower. As we get to that goal, we will create development solutions that are attractive to many of them,” said Saran.

“We do not need to live in a world where oil and gas are put on huge tankers and shipped around the planet earth at the cost of billions of dollars and endless greenhouse gas emissions,” added Khanna.

Clean technology
In addition to biotech, another sector that’s ripe for the taking is clean technology. With India’s energy demand far outstripping its supply, being energy self-sufficient is a natural goal.
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India has already taken a leadership position in working towards the sustainable development goals under the Paris Agreement. The 1400 megawatt Pavagada Solar Park is expected to become the world's biggest solar farm when completed.

All it needs to do now is ramp up its efforts. “It [India] is going to be an SDG superpower. As we get to that goal, we will create development solutions that are attractive to many of them,” said Saran

“We do not need to live in a world where oil and gas are put on huge tankers and shipped around the planet earth at the cost of billions of dollars and endless greenhouse gas emissions,” added Khanna.
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Remote working throws up a huge opportunity in outsourcing
The rising preference for people to work remotely may be the next big thrust India’s $52 billion outsourcing industry needs. “I heard someone say just yesterday, well then why hire Americans? You should just hire Indians, right? If you want a good software programmer, a good computer scientist, a good data architect, a good cybersecurity expert, you don't need to hire someone at twice the cost,” said Khanna.

India’s vast demographic dividend has been discussed for over a decade but as Khanna put it, “it’s no secret that education in India is uneven.”

Both Khanna and Saran suggest that India must direct its limited resources towards directed at technology education so that the country can double up on being the leader in global software exports and digital services — something where companies like TCS, Infosys, HCL Technologies, and Wipro have already been leading the charge.
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The advantage will come from the quality of talent and not just from cheap labour.

The technology that the world needs

The global technology race has had two frontrunners so far ⁠— the US and China. “We are not going to have transparency from trying. It really does reinforce the central message that we have to be on guard in a way against abuse of Chinese power and authority. Whether it is geopolitical, whether it's economic or whether it is diplomatic,” said Khanna

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“I think Chinese models operate in the night. They need darkness to thrive. If you want an Asian century of light, we need a different political arrangement for the ship,” added Saran.

Whether it’s biotech, clean energy or its vast labour forces — India has all the right ingredients to make the situation work its favour, provided it plays its cards right. “People are looking to China, to Japan, to Southeast Asia and to India to be pulling the world economy forward,” said Saran.

India already has a headstart on all four basic needs of the post-COVID world. It just needs to build on its capabilities quickly.

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