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Trends fuelling India’s FDI story

by Tavaga Invest

From sarkari to swanky

Whenever we think of a government office, what really comes to our mind? Old dilapidated buildings, dimly lit long corridors, cramped rooms where babus are buried over a pile of dusty files, and ofcourse the sight of peons carrying tea around. Isn’t it? 

Well, you will be in for a big surprise if you climb up to the first floor of the Vigyan Bhavan building on Delhi’s Maulana Azad Road. 

This quasi-government organization in Delhi’s posh locality looks anything but “sarkari”. Swanky corporate office with young professionals busy on their laptops. We are talking about the office of Invest India, the government’s investment promotion agency.

This organization is working day in and day out to fulfill PM Modi’s vision of transforming “red tape into red carpet”. 

What started in 2009 as a joint venture between the center and the private sector remained largely dead till 2015. Thats when Deepak Bagla was appointed as head of Invest India and the turnaround story thereafter, is simply mind-blowing. Since then this organization has remarkably worked to drive foreign investments into the country and seal India’s position on the global investments map. 

Invest India 2.0 

Modi’s government after coming to power in 2014, rolled out the Make in India campaign in September 2014. The government needed a dedicated agency that could target foreign companies and pursue them to invest in India. Instead of creating a new agency altogether, they decided to give life to the existing one. This led to the birth of Invest India 2.0 which was given the mandate of chasing big foreign companies with little presence in India and handhold them to set up factories in the country.

The “New India”

“We are good at joining the dots”. That’s how Mr. Bagla describes his team. Invest India under his leadership was alone instrumental in getting investments worth Rs. 3 lakh crores ($33 billion). In fact, India received a record level of FDI worth $83 billion in 2021-22, despite the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown worldwide. 

From having 452 startups in 2015, India has come a long way. It holds second place worldwide with the number of startups, is third by the number of Unicorns, and is the leader in the daily addition of new startups.

Source: Invest India

India is now the “planet’s most open economy,” and Invest India has been instrumental in this journey. It has created 450,000 jobs while supporting over 81,000 startups and facilitating 1,323 projects.

What sets this startup apart?

From offering personalized services to a dedicated RM for each investor, this “startup of the Government of India,” has a unique business strategy to attract foreign investments. Let’s understand what really sets them apart from other government-led organizations. 

  1. Quasi private 

Government has a 49% equity stake in Invest India while the rest is equally divided among three industry bodies — CII, FICCI, and Nasscom — thereby technically making it a private entity. More than 23 states also have a stake in Invest India. The involvement of the private sector has been paramount to avoid bureaucratic delays in its functioning.

   Source: Invest India

     2. Young and driven team

The team comprising of 411 people with a rich pedigree and prior experience in reputed financial and consulting firms. The average team age of 29 years is completely unheard of in any government operation. This has ensured a professional culture within the organization with a focused and driven attitude. 

  1. One-stop-shop

The idea behind Invest India was to remove red tape and bureaucracy and provide dedicated service throughout, from location hunting to getting approvals and funding. They have strived to provide a one-stop point of contact for foreign investors and have handheld them in the entire process. There have been several successful use cases, particularly their Startup India mission. They have bootstrapped startups like the pharma-based 1mg, which has now been acquired by the Tata group, allowing them to get in touch with the right people and entry into the highly competitive market.

  1. Low budget

Invest India has been one of the world’s most successful investment promotion agencies (IPA) and operates on the lowest budget. Most employees worked in the private sector and have chosen to take pay cuts, ranging from 7% to 93%. Praised for their “can do” mindset, they have delivered outstanding results with effective utilization of resources. 

  1. Innovative solutions

Invest India has charted its path to success by offering innovative solutions to complex problems. An example would be how they landed Sweden-based safety airbags manufacturer Autoliv despite other favourable investment markets available like Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand. Invest India found out that the company had shortlisted a location in Chennai but backed out due to cost concerns. They simply offered another piece of land a bit farther away from Chennai in Cheyyar town and opted for a lease model. 

  1. State participation

Invest India has brought FDI to 31 states and Union territories, encouraging participation and creating competition between the states where they are vying against the others for investment. Every state tries to exhibit the best practices and weaker states are partnered up with strong ones to encourage the development of the entire country. This is a significant improvement from previous instances where the bulk of FDI was pocketed by a few larger states only. 

    Source: Invest India

India @100

The organization can pick up lessons from China which has successfully transformed into the factory of the world. Nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than in China. China has outpaced not just India but all other emerging countries when it comes to building the right ecosystem for foreign investments. Whether it is the development of supporting infrastructure, a strong workforce, financial incentives, or favourable policies. For countries like China and India, FDI is very crucial for spurring development and sustaining the country’s economy as a competitive one in the global marketplace. India too needs to build the right complementary ecosystem. 

Bagla in his address mimicked Bollywood and said, “picture abhi baaki hai” and we cannot wait to see how this journey will unfold. 

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