April 20, 2009
School of Business, Coimbatore
The CII (Confederation of Indian Industries) Young Indians Forum at the Amrita School of Business (ASB) recently organized a high-profile one-day symposium with the theme — Current Global Financial Turmoil and Indian Industries: An Opportunity or a Disaster?
In attendance were a few hundred delegates. In addition to ASB students, there were participants from industry and other business schools. Mr. M. R. Anand, Economic Advisor to the Ministry of Finance was the inaugural speaker. He analyzed the impact of the crisis and explained its underlying causes. “This is global networked crisis,” he exclaimed, “where the domino effect and fear psychosis has made it into an unparalleled event in the history of the world.” Continuing later on a more positive note, he added, “With its innate entrepreneurial spirit and resilience, Indian Industry can weather the current global financial crisis and also emerge to a position of global leadership.”
The panel discussion that followed echoed the same message. “The current turmoil and resulting slow down even in India has given breathing space for companies to change their processes and reduce costs,” noted Mr. Vijay Mohan, CEO of Pricol Ltd. “For progressive Indian companies, who are quick to react and are innovative, this is an opportunity to reduce costs and become more competitive. For the average Indian company, this is a disaster,” he added. “History is ample proof that market share is gained or lost during transitions; the current scenario points to such an opportunity,” agreed Mr. N. S. Parthasarathy, CEO of MindTree Consulting.
Mr. Rajrishi Singhal, Chief Economist at the Dhanalakshmi Bank, who until recently headed the business news section at Times of India said that he had begun writing about an impending disaster a couple years ago. “At that time, I received a lot of flak for what I wrote,” he shared. “2009 is going to be a very difficult year,” said Mr. Vishnu Potty, VP Operations of Cognizant Technologies. “But we can convert it to an opportunity if we are careful. IT companies will become either stronger or weaker in this economy, they will not remain the same.” Read more about the panel discussion here.
Mr. Ravi Sam, CEO of Adwaith Lakshmi Industries also spoke. “We must focus on the economy, infrastructure and governance; these three are core issues and are related to one other,” he said. Mr. Ravi is the current chair of the Coimbatore Chapter of CII. “CII will work with the stakeholders in order to do this. CII wants to see India as a developed nation by 2022; India will be 75 years old then.” Mr. Ravi unveiled a district development plan developed by the CII for Coimbatore. It focuses on building up road, rail and air transport infrastructure for the city as well developing the sports industry. “CII will also help set up new cold storage facilities for agriculture here,” he added.
The panel discussion was moderated by Mr. Omkar Vikram Shankar, MD Sankar Foundation. Mr. Omkar is the Coimbatore Chair of Young India. After lunch, participants had the opportunity to present papers. A team from TCS bagged first prize; another team from SRM University came in second. Mr. Ashwin Chandran, Managing Director, Precot Meridian Limited and Mr. Vishnu Potty, VP Operations of Cognizant Technologies were the judges for this part of the event.
Young Indians (Yi) is an initiative of the CII. Constituted in 2002, it now has some 3000 students and 45 chapters in colleges all over India. Membership is open to anyone in the age group 15-40. Demographically, India is a young country, 75% of Indians are under the age of 40. Yi’s mission is to influence, inspire and connect Indian youth by undertaking socially productive projects, in keeping with its motto of We can, We will.
Mr. Vijay Mohan lamented the refusal of banks to lend to businesses and narrated the manufacturing sector’s plight as they are severely affected by the meltdown in the global financial markets. He spoke about how in his own company, he is utilizing this lean period to reinvent processes and cut out excess flab. The company manufactures instruments and allied sensors for four-wheelers and two-wheelers and is the market leader in its industry, with a forty percent market share.
Mr Parthasarthy gave a lucid chronology of the events that preceded the onset of the crisis in October 2007 when large hedge funds in the US filed for bankruptcy. He recalled the foolhardy optimism that brought about this crisis resulting in stoppage of the very life blood of industry – the working capital, thus suffocating the current economy. From his experience at MindTree Consulting, he sees the current times as an opportunity to rethink and replan for the IT sector. “There is never a wrong time for doing the right thing,” he exclaimed in parting.
Mr. Rajrishi Singhal saw the current times as an opportunity and enumerated how a few sunrise sectors such as FMCG, Cement, Steel, Capital Goods and Automobiles have emerged out of the red. “Politics, monsoon and budget are the three pillars of Indian economy,” he stated. He decried the recent parking of funds by banks to the tune of several lakh crores a day, instead of lending it to industry. “The need of the hour today is a policy change; RBI has a moral obligation to reverse this anomaly and set a SLR cap to about 25%,” he said.