Diplomat Talks Future of Indian Economy with KSU Students

April 21, 2016

Consul General Nagesh SinghWith the Indian economy poised to become the third largest in the world by 2025, American students entering the job market can expect to interact more with Indian business partners throughout their careers.

This was the key message that Indian Consul General Nagesh Singh hopes students took away from his April 14th visit to Kennesaw State University. Singh spoke to a group of Dr. Abhra Roy’s economics students about India’s changing economy and the ever-growing partnership between India and the U.S.

“India is the second-most populated country in the world,” Singh told the students. “Every sixth person you run into is of Indian descent. It’s also the world’s fastest growing economy. Whatever you do, India will affect you.”

Singh is the latest diplomat to visit Kennesaw State under the Division of Global Affairs’ Consular Connect program, which invites members of the Atlanta Consular Corps to the University to address students and meet with leadership and faculty. Previous events featured consuls general from Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Peru. This was Singh’s first visit to Kennesaw State University since his appointment to Consul General in late 2015.

A large part of his discussion focused on how India’s economy has become a primarily service-based one following the 1991 financial crises that saw the virtual bankruptcy of the Indian government. In response to this crisis, the government abandoned its long-held isolationist economic policy and opened up the country to foreign investment. Meanwhile, previously state-owned industries became wholly privatized.

“This unshackled our economy,” Singh said. “We jumped from an agrarian economy into service-based one. Sixty percent of our GDP comes from services.”

While this reliance on providing professional services to multinational companies has cemented India’s place in the global economy and resulted in India becoming the world’s fastest growing economy with a growth rate of 7.6 percent, Singh explained that it has also created a problem for the country.

By quickly graduating from agriculture to services, India never developed a strong manufacturing infrastructure. As a result, there is a surplus of services workers and a shortage of people working in other industries.

“When growing up, most Indians want to be doctors or lawyers,” Singh said, “but today there is a problem where a forklift operator can make more money than an information technology worker because there’s no one to do that job.”

In 2014, the Indian Prime Minister launched the Make in India campaign. Designed to minimize India’s reliance on business and technology services, the initiative promotes India as a manufacturing and design destination for domestic and international firms. The program has already secured funding from major foreign investors including Lockheed-Martin, Ford, and General Electric.

Singh summed up his presentation by describing how programs like Make in India will secure India’s future.

“We can talk about India’s history and what we accomplished while other countries were still living in caves,” he said, “but the present and the future are important too.”

Before concluding his visit, Singh attended a planning session with University faculty to discuss opportunities for future partnership between Kennesaw State and the Indian Consulate.

-Patrick Harbin