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FAITH OVER FEAR

What Indian billionaires think about the future of the country’s economy

Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis
Boosting the confidence.
  • Niharika Sharma
By Niharika Sharma

Reporter

Published

The Indian economy is going through what is possibly its worse phase in recent history, but the country’s billionaires aren’t batting an eyelid.

The once-in-a-century pandemic has pushed India into an unprecedented recession. Yet, on July 12, Gautam Adani, the second richest Indian and the chairman of multinational conglomerate Adani Group, expressed his confidence in the country’s ability to become a $15 trillion (Rs1,112 lakh crore) economy within the next 20 years.

“India will be a $5 trillion economy, and then go on to be an over $15 trillion economy in the next two decades. India will emerge as one of the largest global markets both in terms of consumption size and market cap,” Adani said while addressing an annual shareholders’ meet. 

Adani is not the only wealthy Indian industrialist who has expressed exuberance about the country’s future economic prospects. Several other Indian billionaires have made similarly bold claims.

Mukesh Ambani on the Indian economy

Asia’s richest man and chairman of India’s largest private firm Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani believes India’s economic rebound will “surprise the world.”

In June, during his company’s annual shareholders’ meeting, Ambani said:

“I foresee that the Indian economy will bounce back at a rate that will surprise the world. Prosperity and opportunities will be created for all on a scale never seen before. Not for a few, but for all 1.35 billion Indians… I believe the speedy recovery in the post-Covid period is beyond any doubt. But beyond recovery, there will be a rapid resurgence. I have no doubt that India is destined to emerge as one of the top three economies in the world.”

Kumar Mangalam Birla on the Covid-19 setback

Echoing Ambani’s sentiments, billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the $46-billion Aditya Birla Group, said the Indian economy is coming back into shape after it endured the catastrophic second Covid-19 wave. Birla is India’s seventh richest man.

“After the first wave, I think we’ve come back into shape pretty much completely. This time around, it’s been a setback for a little longer, maybe a month longer, than it was last time, but I pretty much see the economy coming back… The medium, long-term view that I have on India pretty much remains intact… This is more of an episodic setback than a structural setback”

Sunil Mittal calls India a “promising destination”

Despite the Covid-induced slump, the telecom veteran and chairman of Bharti Enterprises Sunil Mittal expressed confidence in India’s potential to continue being a “promising destination” for investors around the globe. Mittal is India’s tenth richest man.

“We have the opportunity to transform India into a global leader in the digital economy. We must continue to evolve our policies to realise these opportunities while encouraging investments, entrepreneurship and innovation through collaboration…As the Indian economy digitises further, there are large opportunities ahead in areas such as data centres, submarine cable deployment, cloud services and cyber security. We will look to scale up our investments in these areas in the coming fiscal.”

Uday Kotak on fiscal support

Showing confidence in the Indian economy’s resilience, banker and India’s fifth-richest person, Uday Kotak, in an interview in May said by March 2022, the Indian economy will return to its pre-pandemic size.

“The time has come for the fiscal to support the economy in two parts. In the lower strata, where it has to be in the form of direct intervention… The second one is a programme to support stressed sectors in business. It could be an extension of the Rs3-lakh crore Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) programme, which has been successful, though not all of it has been used. But I would expand sectors, even the size, and maybe suggest going up to Rs500,000 crore.”

The Narendra Modi government launched the ECLGS in May 2020 to spur growth in the Covid-hit economy.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw on an improved economic situation

Acknowledging that the current economic climate is not favourable, billionaire entrepreneur and executive chairperson of Bengaluru-based biotech firm Biocon, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw in July said (pdf) she looks forward to better overall business sentiment.

“We hope that with increasing vaccination coverage the social and economic situation in India will improve. We look forward to an overall improvement in the business sentiment.”

Earlier in June Shaw had talked about how Covid-19 created an ecosystem for innovation in India.

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