|By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
Former Director General of Information Systems, Indian Army
The 8th annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), jointly hosted by the US and India and attended by 1,500 entrepreneurs, investors and eco-system supporters from 159 countries was held in Hyderabad from 28 to 30 November, 2017. The Summit highlighted the theme 'Women First, Prosperity for All'; focusing on supporting women entrepreneurs and fostering economic growth globally. Advisor to the US President, Ivanka Trump headed the US delegation. During his visit to the US in June, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had requested Ivanka (daughter of President Donald Trump) to lead the US delegation for GES 2017, and so India laid on the red carpet for Ivanka. The agenda of the summit was exhaustive, as can be seen from the multiple sessions covering wide-ranging issues, which included:
'Be the Change: Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership'; 'We Can Do It! Innovations in Workforce Development and Skills Training'; 'Money Counts: Attracting Private Equity'; 'Future of Cinema'; 'She Means Business: Mentoring and Networking'; 'Easy Entrepreneurship: Public Sector Perspective'; 'Innovations that Bridge the Digital Divide'; 'Under the Microscope: Investing in Healthcare Startups'; 'The Business of Winning at Sports Entrepreneurship'; 'AgriTech Matters: Feed Billions by Harvesting Technology'; 'Capital Success: Crowdfunding and Bootstrapping'; 'Meet George Jetson, Modernizing Mobility Infrastructure'; 'Easy Entrepreneurship: The Entrepreneurs' Perspective'; 'Water Everywhere: Managing a Scarce Resource'; 'Payment Platforms: What's the Next Game Changer?'; 'Retooling Learning and Schooling'; 'Grassroots Grows: Women in Emerging Markets'; 'Byte into a Better Future: FinTech Disruptors'; 'From the Drawing Board to the Boardroom: Creative Entrepreneurs'; 'Getting on the Grid; Building Your Customer Oriented Brand'; 'Easy Entrepreneurship: The Investor Perspective'; 'Go For It: Tapping Alternative Financing Solutions'; 'Better Health without Breaking the Bank: How Low-Cost Innovations are Revolutionizing Healthcare'; 'The Missing Middle: Making the Leap'; 'Capital Success: Seed Funds to Venture Capital'; 'Beyond Returns: Investing in Emerging Markets'; 'Harvesting Change through Entrepreneurship: Tackling Global Agricultural Challenges'; 'The City that Never Sleeps: Cities of Tomorrow'; 'Diversifying Supply Chains: Linking Global Commerce and Women-Owned Businesses'; 'Innovation Hubs: Skilling the CEOs of the Future – Incubators'; 'From the Lab to the Market: Connecting Science to the Entrepreneurship World'; 'An Audience of Billions: How to Break into Big Emerging Markets'; 'Knowing the Future: How Artificial Intelligence will Shape Tomorrow'; 'Own Your Message: Effectively Using Traditional and Social Media'; 'Reimagining the Future of Health'; 'Pitch to the Rich: Key Messages to Deliver to Investors'; 'How to Fail Better'; 'The Reality of the Future: How Technologies are Shaping Experiences'; 'E-Commerce as a Critical Tool in Scaling Entrepreneurship'; 'Developing the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem'; 'Success! Keeping and Nurturing Women in STEM'; 'The Language of Entrepreneurship'; 'The "Enterprise" of Space: Advances In and Applications of Space Technology Are Driving Economic Growth Around the World'; 'The Missing Middle: Increasing Your Presence'; and, 'When Women Win, We All Win: Promoting Inclusive Environments for Women Entrepreneurs'.
Ivanka's keynote address was centred on: closing gender entrepreneurship gap could make global GDP grow by up to 2 per cent; praising Prime Minister Modi for building India as a thriving economy - "What you are achieving is truly extraordinary... from your childhood selling tea to election as India's prime minister"; through own enterprise, entrepreneurship and hard work, the people of India have lifted more than 130 million citizens out of poverty - a remarkable improvement that will continue to grow under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi; India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and has a true friend in the White House; despite soaring rate of female entrepreneurs, women still face steep obstacles to starting, owning, and growing their businesses - fuelling growth of women-led businesses is good for economy; if India closes labor-force gender gap by half, Indian economy could grow by over $150 billion in next three years; lauded women in majority of 1,500 entrepreneurs attending GES 2017; need to ensure women entrepreneurs have access to capital, networks, mentors and equitable laws; highlighted what the US is doing to reverse the trend of leadership in entrepreneurship. Addressing the summit, Prime Minister Modi focused on: GES 2017 brings together leading investors, entrepreneurs, academicians, think-tanks, other stakeholders to propel the global entrepreneurship ecosystem, connecting not only Silicon Valley with Hyderabad but also show-cases US-India close ties underlining shared commitment for encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation; topics chosen for the summit are relevant to the well-being and prosperity of mankind; in Indian mythology, woman is an incarnation of Shakti - the Goddess of power - we believe women empowerment is vital to development; Indian history has references to women of remarkable talent and determination and Indian women continue to lead in different walks of life including space programs, judiciary, sports, rural and urban local bodies (one-third reservations), agriculture and allied sectors (more than 60%) and milk cooperatives; highlighted how India has been an incubator for innovations and entrepreneurship over the ages, present day advances and programs like Start-Up India, entrepreneur friends from India are vehicles of change and instruments of India's transformation; invited foreign entrepreneur friends - Come, Make in India, Invest in India - for India, and for the world.
Being Advisor to President Trump, Ivanka leading the US delegation had special meaning because Modi's call for foreign entrepreneurs to Make in India and for the world clashes with Trump's 'Make America Great Again' call. Ivanka should be able to handle the contradiction adroitly, ensuring the collaboration optimizes growth of both countries together. Trump recognizes global supply chains as the most efficient way of doing business, aiding prosperity in all countries through which they flow, but his protectionist approach towards trade and services should not break bilateral momentum of growing Indo-US ties. Already US majors like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and others are looking at major tie ups with India. But the requirement is for holistic collaborative entrepreneurship and innovation for wholesome growth to benefit mankind in all walks of life. An overtly aggressive China also mandates collaboration for advances innovations in space, cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum communications and the like. Though these are dual use technologies, China has optimized their use through foreign collaboration over the ears despite sanctions. In terms of theme of GES 2017, India needs to focus on jobs and closing the 'increasing gender gap'; having fallen by 21 spots to 108th position in World Economic Forum's 2017 Gender Parity Index (from 87th position in 2016).
Bangladesh holds the 47th position in 2017. Next, Chinese regional hegemony being of growing concern, especially with insufficient condition for a free and rules-based security architecture in the Indo-Pacific, requires deeper Indo-US strategic convergence, common values, and deepening friendship, which must advance beyond rhetoric. In this context, the Indo-US Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) must move rapidly integrating the private sector comprehensively. Participation of industry partners from both countries in the DTTI dialogue needs to be seriously looked at. This would help identify capabilities required with timelines corresponding with India's strategic partnership acquisitions. The joint Indo-US pledge taken recently at Manila "to enhance cooperation as Major Defense Partners, resolving that two of the world's great democracies should also have the world's greatest militaries'' must be catapulted to reality through the DTTI. In terms of 'ease of business', India may have gained a few spots, but much more is required to done including cutting out the red tape. Finally, is the biggest concern about terrorism emanation from Pakistan, exemplified by the recent abject surrender by the Pakistani military and the administration to the Islamists, setting free Hafiz Saeed – perpetrator of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack and propelling him onto the political high ground in Pakistan. US may have placed a prize of $10 million for information linking Hafiz Saeed with the Mumbai terror attacks, but aren't the testimonials of David Headley (Pakistani national in US custody) proof enough? Sure US has increased presence in Afghanistan, but somehow the impression stays that a constituency in Capital Hill continues to favour mollycoddling Pakistan at the cost of India. This is a sore point that the Trump administration needs to address.