India's promising future!

Author - Ajay Khanna

Published By: moneycontrol
Posted on: April 20, 2024
India's promising future!

In 2019, there were 8,054 candidates representing 673 parties. Parties and candidates spent an estimated USD 8.7 billion to woo more than 900 million eligible voters.

Over the last 40 years, I have been visiting the United States in my various avatars - both professional & personal. Like most of us, I have a lot of family in the US and many friends in the Government & corporate sector. During my current visits to different cities, I have been meeting entrepreneurs, investors, academia, government officials, and diplomats. What struck me this time is that the conversations have drastically changed. The question is not anymore around “Why India” but rather India- what next? What should be my strategy to engage in & with India?"

It is exciting to be a part of these conversations as they range from the Government’s vision of Vikshit Bharat to Ram mandir to opposition political parties and several others. Over the aroma of the coffee, these conversations drift towards positive economic trends like India becoming a favourite FDI destination, a hub for innovation & start-up ecosystem, adoption of AI, clean energy, net zero, the unparalleled digital economy & growth of global capability centres, China +1, etc. Enthusiastic voices eagerly discuss India’s successful G20 presidency, Supreme Court order on the electoral bonds, Aditya L1 mission, unified Payment Interface and several others. With India pegging the last quarter's growth at 8.4 percent, it has become the fastest-growing economy and is set to increase its current annual GDP of close to USD 3.5 trillion to USD 10 trillion by 2030.

Two issues everyone asks me about – the world’s largest general elections in India & Cricket -Indian Premier League (IPL) and here is what I say to them.

2024 is the year of global elections with more than 49 percent of the world population in over 64 countries going ahead to vote their leaders. The world’s largest & oldest democracies are going in for elections as well. Elections in India are a massive democratic exercise & are the most expensive elections in the world, surpassing even the United States. The numbers were mind-boggling. In 2019, there were 8,054 candidates representing 673 parties. Parties and candidates spent an estimated USD 8.7 billion to woo more than 900 million eligible voters.

The 2024 elections are set to be the largest-ever election in the world. These are going to be the longest-held general elections in India over 44 days fighting for 543 seats in the parliament. India’s electoral rules say there must be a polling station within 1.2 miles of every habitation. This implies many of India’s 11 million election workers have to trek across various natural landscapes - glaciers, deserts, jungles, seas, and an ocean to make sure every eligible Indian can vote. Around 3,40,000 security personnel from Central Armed Police Forces along with the State police forces will be deployed to warrant a free and fair election. To ensure that over 960 million people, nearly half of them women, can vote securely, the general elections will take place in sequential phases by region, and my audience in the US is much surprised when I say India will declare election results on June 4 within three days of the final polling done on June 1!

Cricket is the second discussion point everyone is talking about in the US. The T20 World Cup is scheduled to be held in the US & West Indies in less than 50 days & try to buy any tickets, especially for the India vs Pakistan match on June 9 in New York!

Meanwhile, Indian evenings are all about a true global brand from India - TATA Indian Premier League (IPL) these days. As of 2023, IPL brand value was $10.7 billion, making it a "decacorn" & has grown 28 percent from 2022 to 2023. IPL is now the second biggest league in the sporting world after the National Football League (NFL) of the US.

When we start speaking about the economics of IPL everyone is in a bit of awe! An average IPL records 33000 spectators in a single game. The broadcast of the opening match of the season on March 22 was watched by 168 million viewers globally. IPL media rights were sold for a whopping USD 6.2 billion for a five-year cycle. The tournament draws the attention of cricket lovers from all over the world, leading to an influx of tourists during the IPL season- airports are packed, flights are full, and hotels & restaurants are near 100 percent occupancy. I emphasise IPL is a celebration of diversity and unity. Teams from different cities across India, each with its unique identity and fan base, battle it out for the coveted title, turning the tournament into a melting pot of cultures, languages, and traditions. Young unknown players from small, remote towns in India get an opportunity & the spotlight to play in this big league. This year 74 matches are being played across the country over 52 days from March to May. In the past, IPL was held outside India when coinciding with general elections. This has now been put to rest since the 2019 general election with IPL coinciding in the country every five years.

India has strengthened its infrastructure, administration, and security. It is ready to host mega global events. The G-20 Presidency last year showed the world how India has evolved. More than 220 meetings happened across 60 cities in all 28 states and 8 union territories. Over 15 million people were involved in these programmes and more than one hundred thousand participants from around 125 countries visited different parts of India and interacted with people from different regions. New facilities were built in many cities for G20 meetings and old facilities were upgraded. The G20 story of India could be termed as a successful execution of well-considered logistical planning. This decentralisation of G20 meetings and taking them to the states not only helped in promoting infrastructure development but also showcased India’s diversity and confidence. Mega congregations such as these enabled a positive and transformational impact.

From fragile five to first five, the country has come a long way in the last decade & is set to become a global economic powerhouse to reach a $30 trillion economy by 2047.

Going forward, we hope to see India hosting the Olympics! The future is promising. For now, it is gratifying to see the young and old electorate gearing up to fortify democracy in India while cheering up for their favourite teams in IPL.

AJAY KHANNA is Co-Founder, Public Affairs Forum of India