Finding the right Indian State for you

By Kevin McCole

The importance of individual states is something we at the UKIBC have advocated since 2009 when we launched our “emerging cities in India” report. This report featured 9 cities that hold great potential for UK businesses. There, we covered cities from Chandigarh in the north to Coimbatore in the South.

Then and since, we have taken delegations to many states across India, including Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Indore, and Bangalore. And in recent years, the UKIBC has hosted Chief Ministers, Ministers, senior figures and business delegations from many states in London.

From all of this activity, we at the UKIBC have built an understanding of what a State wants to achieve and how they can achieve it. At the same time, we have also built an understanding of the goals and needs of UK businesses and how they can fulfil those goals.

Of course, great partnerships have already been struck between UK investors and Indian states. The simple truth is that UK companies have been Making in India for many decades. Rolls Royce, BAE Systems and JCB are just a few examples of UK businesses that have a long history in India. Perkins Engines, based in Aurangabad in Maharashtra, is a more recent example. Companies like Vodafone, HSBC, Diageo and many others have invested billions of pounds and continue to do so.

In total, there are approximately 600 UK investors in India. They span all sectors and comprise an estimated 1 in 20 jobs in the organised private sector in India. For the whole of this century, the UK has been among the very top investors in India.

So, there are already many success stories. But there is great potential to do more. So, here are three things that Indian States offer that UK investors want:

  1. Businesses want to be part of a strong ecosystem relevant to their sector. So State Governments should identify the two or three sectors in which they have a genuinely globally competitive ecosystem, including talented people with cutting-edge skills. With this compelling proposition, the UKIBC can help you find UK companies that can invest and enhance that ecosystem. For example:
  • A flexible labour market, with a workforce that has the skills of the future. For example, a workforce that is strong in science, technology, engineering and maths, or “STEM” subjects, as well as with digital and creative skills.
  • Alongside this, UK businesses appreciate a close and collaborative relationship between industry and the science being developed in universities and institutes in India.
  1. The second thing that Indian states have and/or are developing is world class infrastructure and connectivity. For office-based work, there is a large supply of quality options all across India’s cities. For manufacturers, finding the right land in India is less of an issue than it once was. Land has to be in the right place. That is, close to efficient ports and to skilled workers. And that land needs to be well-connected by road and rail. The international connectivity also has to be strong to import parts and export high-value-added goods.
  1. The third and final area where UK business and state governments’ interests align is on improving the ease of doing business. In UKIBC surveys, investors tell us the thing they value most in a state is the speed of getting permissions and the effectiveness of the bureaucracy.

And, from the extensive programme of business to state government interactions the UKIBC facilitates, we see that the governments are making tremendous efforts to deliver this speed and effectiveness.  They are engaging with businesses to understand and then deal with any challenges they may face.

This is a work in progress but there is certainly progress being made and state governments should be applauded for the great strides taken.

A final thought for UK businesses: India is not one country; it is 28 collective states. Each is different. So, look for the states that match your requirements. The one with the ecosytem that best suits you. And the one with a government that creates a simple and efficient operating environment.

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