International Panel Reimagines India
HOUSTON, May 22, 2014 — Asia Society Texas Center, in collaboration with McKinsey & Company, hosted Reimagining India: Unlocking the Potential of Asia’s Next Superpower. The panel, based on McKinsey’s anthology by the same name, focused on the social and economic challenges and opportunities facing India today. Participating in the program were former Asia Society President Vishakha N. Desai, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, British writer and historian Patrick French, Mckinsey & Company partner Barnik Maitra, former Astros owner and current McLane Group chairman Drayton McLane, and former McKinsey India chairman Adil Zainulbhai. Consul General Parvathaneni Harish gave opening remarks.
The panel discussion was aptly timed: India had only recently held their Lok Saabha election last week, which ended with an overwhelming Bharati Janata Party victory. The change in government helped to drive some of the discussions between the panelists who were asked by Zainbhai to share their perspective and contributions to the book.
Patrick French observed that the results of the recent election were largely influenced by the millions of new voters, many young in demographic, aspirational, and impatient for change.
Vishaka Desai stressed that more emphasis should be placed on the arts, encouraging graduates to learn about their culture and heritage to boost India’s profile.
Drayton McLane said that the country holds tremendous potential, but that its weak infrastructure limits the country’s growth. He encouraged reducing bureaucracy and empowering entrepreneurs.
Ed Emmitt, who has travelled extensively in India, spoke also of the country’s weak infrastructure and governance. He encouraged more power go to the individual states to increase efficiency.
Barnik Maitra said that India is currently one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of agricultural products. With improvements in farming technologies and organization, the country’s annual growth could increase even more.
When asked what areas of improvement India’s government should address, the answers were extensive and varied. The panelists spoke about changing employment laws, pushing for stricter enforcement of contracts, improving agriculture logistics, increasing mobility, protecting the environment, and encouraging more education.