The long road to doing better business in India

Narendra Modi

Supporters throw flower petals as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi rides in an open jeep on his way to file nomination papers on April 9, 2014 in Vadodra, India.

India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlined his first budget for the country today. Following his landslide election in May, expectations are high for Mr. Modi's plans to help revive India’s economy and jumpstart development.

But can he do enough to make India a more attractive place for foreign companies and investors? Case in point: remember when those floor-vacuuming robots came out back in 2002? Scott Miller led iRobot’s R&D in India, where he says he navigated bad roads, corruption, and time-consuming piles of paperwork.

"Working in the consumer electronics industry, schedule is everything," Miller explains. "If you miss the main holiday season you have to wait another year and that can have a profound impact on your revenue."

Now, Miller is CEO of Dragon Innovation, which guides hardware companies from prototype to high-volume manufacturing. He says he’d love to go back to India if it gets easier to make things there.

"Having as many people as India does, it could be a very credible alternative to China," he says.

Many analysts are optimistic the Modi government will be able to attract more foreign investment.  

"We’ve definitely seen the financial markets react very positively to his election," says  John Derrick, Director of Research at U.S. Global Investors. "So I think we’re just waiting to see if he can, you know, walk the walk as well as talk the talk."  

Derrick adds that for Prime Minister Modi, it could be a long walk.

 

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