I believe that Europe is India's most valuable market and will continue to be so in the future. This is not wishful thinking. Statistics from the Government of India show that Western Europe accounted for 32 per cent of the country's imports in 2005-06, a significantly greater share than East Asia (21 per cent), South East Asia (ten per cent), North America (8.6 per cent), and China and Hong Kong (12 per cent).
A similar trend can be seen in India's share of exports. Western Europe accounted for 22 per cent in 2005-6, East Asia for 15 per cent, South East Asia for 11 per cent, North America for 18 per cent, and China and Hong Kong for 11 per cent.
Trade collaboration between India and Europe is likely to continue. For historical reasons, India has been closer to the UK and to the Commonwealth Nations. India's relationship in education and business will therefore grow at a faster pace in these nations compared to others.
The liberalisation of the Indian economy started in 1991 and has created a dynamic business environment This is being spurred by the Indian IT industry and sectors such as pharmaceuticals, bio-technology, auto components, forging, minerals and Bollywood.
For the past three years, India's GDP has grown over eight per cent and the middle class has quadrupled to about 300 million people. This has catapulted India to becoming the ninth largest economy and the largest English-speaking nation in the world, in which 35 per cent of the 1.2 billion population are below the age of 15. India also boasts the second largest pool of scientists and engineers in the world.
We will see the creation of even more Indian-born multinational companies like Bharat Forge, SBI, Ranbaxy, Dr Reddy's Lab, Infosys and Wipro, and business houses like the Mahindra Group, Tata Sons and Aditya Birla Group. Many Indian companies are already in Europe, some with their European headquarters in the UK. Others are planning to follow suit.
To encourage this trend, Indian firms must now invest their resources in hiring and retaining the right talent, and nurturing them to be leaders. Although India has a large, English-speaking knowledge workforce, the interesting question will be whether organisations have the capability to instill among their employees a sense of being part of not just India's business community, but part of the global workforce. Three factors will determine that; mobility of capital; mobility of talent; and mobility of knowledge.