India stands today at the threshold of greatness. Propelled by a dynamic economy and a pluralistic democracy, it serves as a beacon for the developed and the developing world alike. By 2020, the size of the Indian economy is expected to eclipse that of many developed countries. Within a decade, one out of every four workers in the world will be an Indian who is likely to be employed in the knowledge-driven sectors of information technology, bio-technology and high-end manufacturing. India's young population combined with its service economy predisposes it to play an important role in the global knowledge economy of tomorrow.
To paraphrase Jawaharlal Nehru, India is now in the process of making a new tryst with destiny. But to redeem this pledge and truly fulfil its promise, India will have to rise to the many challenges that await it. Crucial to this process will be the role of Indian business and its leadership:
- How will Indian companies become and remain globally innovative; how will they move up the global value chain?
- How will Indian companies exploit the many opportunities within the domestic market; how will they drive "inclusive innovation" and embrace the 300 million or so Indians who earn less than $1/day?
- How will Indian companies engage and harness the entrepreneurial energy of India's 550 million youth?
Indian businesses cannot take on these challenges on their own. They will need the support of their government in doing so. The challenges facing the Indian government are significant:
- How can the government implement "service innovation" in social sectors like education and healthcare?
- How can Indian policy-makers engage the private sector in building networks with overseas partners to promote knowledge exchange?
Answers to these questions will be of crucial importance to India as it fulfils its new tryst with destiny over the next 20 years or so.
We believe that Cambridge University can be part of this journey of India's, that we can be a trusted partner and that we can derive mutual benefit from this partnership. Our destiny as a university also lies squarely with young people, with creating knowledge and applying it to commercial and social goals in a global environment. As part of these goals we have recently appointed the Jawaharlal Nehru Professor of Indian Business and Enterprise at Judge Business School and set up a Centre devoted to the study of India's role in the global economy.
The Nehru Professor along with members of the Centre for India & Global Business will conduct research and engage with key partners in the following areas:
- The innovation activities of multinationals in India: how and why the world's largest multinationals are increasingly locating their global R&D and innovation activities in India (and other countries like it)
- The internationalisation of Indian firms: how Indian firms (relative to firms from other emerging markets) are going global and moving up the value chain
- Co-innovation with the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid: how firms and other organisations are actively engaging those who live on less than $1 a day through innovative products, services and business models.
Based in Judge Business School at the heart of Cambridge University, the Centre for India & Global Business aims to generate thought leadership and bring together business, academic and policy leaders from around the world to understand, promote and engage with Indian innovators. In essence, the Centre's vision is to become a "world knowledge platform", a term coined by former Indian President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, for creating and disseminating cutting-edge practices and insights related to India and innovation across academic, corporate, and geographical boundaries.
Through the Centre, we at Cambridge University look forward to working with India to create a shared destiny in the global knowledge economy of the future.