“India is in a sweet spot right now!”

In conversation with Lourdes Casanova, Director of the Emerging Markets Institute at the S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, USA

LOURDES CASANOVA is a senior lecturer of management at the S.C. Johnson graduate school of management, Cornell University, since 2012. She is also director of the emerging markets institute. For the previous 23 years, she was a lecturer in the strategy department of INSEAD.

Casonova has published numerous reports, case studies, chapter in books and article in journals including Beijing Business Reviews, International Journal of Human Resource Management, Business and Politics, and Foreign affairs Latinoamerican intellectual’s and in 2017 as one of the ’30 most influential Iberoamerican women intellectuals’ by Esglobal 

On a recent visit to Goa, she spoke about Emerging Markets to HARSHVARDHAN BHATKULY

What is your mandate as Director of the Emerging Markets Institute at the S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Business, Cornell University?

We track emerging markets with a keen eye. Businesses in China, India, Brazil and Mexico are on our watchlist. We are also very bullish about the surge of growth in the African continent.

We have a three-fold objective – Education, Outreach and Knowledge.

Under education, we enable our students to graduate with a minor on ‘Emerging Markets’.

As part of our ‘outreach’ objective, we encourage and assist students to interact with corporates in the emerging markets. The case in point is one of our students, who has chosen to work with the Taj Group of hotels in India. He hails from the United States, and there is tremendous interest in the promise that emerging markets offer our students.

As part of the ‘knowledge’ aspect of our objectives, we organise conferences with business leaders from emerging markets – so as to share first hand experiences with our students. Last year, we hosted Anil Rai Gupta, CEO of Havells, India; and Kaushik Basu, who was Chief Economist of the World Bank from 2012 to 2016.

Professor Basu is the C. Marks Professor of International Studies and Professor of Economics at Cornell University, and began a three-year term as President of the International Economic Association in June 2017.

Such intellectual and inspirational exchanges are essential in spreading the idea of emerging markets in the world, and to our students.

We also publish the ‘Emerging Markets Institute Report’ which studies MNCs in emerging markets. This year, we have a chapter on India in the same.

We also study the biggest companies from emerging markets and study the process of ‘internationalisation’ of their corporate entities.


As an academician, how do you look at India as a player in the emerging markets scenario?

India is in a sweet spot! The growth in its market capitalisation over the last years has been huge. The transformation of the economy is evident to India observers who have seen the country’s growth since 1991 (the year of economic liberalisation).

The credit for India’s growth story should go to the large number of entrepreneurs in the country. There is a boom in the SME sector which has propelled growth and interest in the region.

Take for instance the revolution that the JIO phone has done in terms of empowering and providing social access to millions of Indians through the internet. New systems such as JIO include several local languages of India and this has become a great force multiplier for the global growth ofIndian entrepreneurs.

Although the size of the Indian economy is about a fifth of that of China, it is still the second largest emerging market economy in the world today.

Indian students in my class are bullish and positive about the country’s surge as an economic power. Their outlook is more innovative than of those who are in mature economies from the West.

The other aspect for India’s growth is the obsession with quality education. Education is considered a passport for a better future by Indians and they will not stop short of anything to achieve better education. This has opened up new avenues from across the globe for Indians – to learn, share, compete and do business.

The service industry in India has also grown and matured tremendously.

In 2004, I was at Davos for the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, there were the ‘Incredible India’ banners and posters all over the place. For me, it was India telling the world that it had arrived on the global stage.


Technology and IT has also paved the way towards globalisation…

Of course! Infosys, TCS and Wipro have already shown the world that they have an edge in IT over their global counterparts. And mind you, such an edge has been demonstrated despite the deficient infrastructure in the country.

Leaders like Narayanamurthy of Infosys and many others have shown great commitment towards the nation to position Indian IT as a global benchmark. Today, if you think IT, you think of India!


How do you look and zero in on your concept of emerging markets?

For us, the size of the market matters. China is a 10 trillion economy, India is 2 trillion. Brazil, Russia, Mexico are also key economies in the world.

The country’s influence in the region is also one of the major factors to make it an emerging market.      From the business perspective, home-made innovation is also a key driver in the market dynamics and growth of the economy.


Does your institute also facilitate investments in emerging markets?

We do not have direct channels of investments. However, the events that we organize provide excellent networking opportunities for growth and to secure investments like the EMI conference on November 9th at the Cornell Tech campus in New York. They are great platforms to promote the image of India or China and their economic prowess and business excellence.


How do you look at India’s economy in the near future?

I have great admiration for Indian companies like the Tata group and brands like Jio who are leading the change and contributing tothe development of the country. For any economic success story, the inclusion of the private sector and small enterprise is vital. The SME sector in India is vibrant and dynamic; and it is bound to grow feverishly as it is already doing. As I mentioned earlier, India is in a sweet spot right now!

India is in a sweet spot! The growth in its market capitalisation over the last years has been huge. The transformation of the economy is evident to India observers who have seen the country’s growth since 1991 (the year of economic liberalisation)

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