Unlocking the potential of Asia’s next superpower

SYDNEY, 18 August 2014 - With the world’s best performing stock market this year, a new government and growing self-confidence, India is emerging as Asia’s next superpower, an audience including India’s High Commissioner to Australia has been told.

Australia needs to develop its relationships further with India to grasp these new opportunities in business, education and research.

The event, hosted by McKinsey and Company, Asia Society Australia and UNSW, marked the Australian launch of “Reimagining India – Unlocking the potential of Asia’s next superpower” and featured a panel discussion moderated by UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer.

Published by McKinseys, the book features 65 essays covering a range of aspects of the world’s largest democracy. High-profile contributors include Bill Gates, the CEOs of Google and CISCO as well as economists, writers and filmmakers.

The book provided the opportunity for a “fresh look” at where India could get to over the next couple of decades, said co-editor Adil Zainulbhai, delivering the keynote address.

With two-thirds of the population under 35, “the large number of young people coming into the workplace will have a huge impact on the economy and politics of India”, said Zainulbhai, who is a Senior Adviser to McKinsey and until recently Chairman of McKinsey India.

Along with rapidly changing demographics, other key themes that will “accelerate growth” include urbanisation and technology-enabled development in areas such as education, financial services, healthcare and e-governance.

“Education is a microcosm of the larger story of this book, which is the achievements of India, its potential and the unanswered questions,” Professor Hilmer said.

India is the second largest source of overseas students to Australian universities, making it a key market. But there’s more work to be done to build on and deepen existing relationships.

“India is not standing still. The number of universities has tripled in 14 years to more than 700," Professor HIlmer said.

“That poses both an opportunity and a challenge for us.”

Along with Zainulbhai, the panel featured Sunjay Sudhir, Consul-General of India, Neville Roach, the Patron of the Australia India Institute at UNSW, Deborah Hadwen, CEO of Tata Consultancy Services, and Grame Barty, Austrade's General Manger of Growth and Emerging Markets, who talked about significant opportunities in India for Australian business and innovation in “niche areas where we are standouts”.

These areas include sustainable fisheries management, long-haul freight rail, coal mining safety, energy efficiency, cultural precincts, and road safety, where Australia is a world leader.

“More Indians are killed in traffic accidents than malaria and typhoid combined,” Mr Barty said.

The event was part of Asia Society Australia’s ‘Business of Asia’ series.

Reported by: Denise Knight, UNSW Media Office