The Narendra Modi government’s relentless efforts to boost domestic manufacturing and generate millions of new jobs in the country are slowly beginning to bear fruit.

The Narendra Modi government’s Make in India initiative seems to be paying dividends. For the first time ever, domestic production of electronics exceeded imports. The domestic output of electronics in 2016-17 was $49.5 billion compared to $43 billion of imports.

India crossed the $300 billion mark at a time when the global economic slowdown has had a dampening impact. This speaks volumes of the opportunity India as an investment destination has to offer and how timely market reforms are creating a positive ecosystem for the international investor.

The government of India has taken up a series of measures to improve Ease of Doing Business in the country. The emphasis has been on simplification and rationalisation of the existing rules and introduction of information technology to make governance more efficient and effective. Today the international investor is all ears to the India story as never before. Almost every decision-making meeting globally has India on its agenda.

Charles, Prince of Wales threw his weight behind a new Education Development Impact Bond (DIB) for India during a recent tour of the country.

A new $10-million DIB has been created by the British Asian Trust (BAT), founded by Charles, Prince of Wales to fight poverty in South Asia, and is designed to improve learning outcomes for thousands of marginalised children in India.

Under Narendra Modi, India has shed its anaemic ‘please all, offend none’ foreign policy stance, firmed up what exactly Act East means and has handled foreign policy challenges strictly from the point of India’s enlightened self-interest.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a well-founded reputation as a disruptor. Demonetisation of high value currency notes that sucked out 86 per cent of the country’s currency in circulation, the introduction of the Goods and Service Tax (GST), which replaced a welter of central and state levies and turned all of India into one common market, and the passage of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, which has put the fear of God into some of the biggest corporate defaulters, have all unleashed the proverbial cat among various cosy cabals of pigeons.

The old Sanskrit saying ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’, which has been loosely translated in the headline, is paying India rich dividends as foreign hotel and restaurant chains flock to the country to create jobs and provide economic opportunities to many more.

It is widely accepted that the hospitality and tourism sector is a key driver of employment and growth the world over. In the Indian context, the Narendra Modi government has identified this sector as key to generating jobs for the millions of youngsters who join the workforce every year – with sound reason.

India’s textile sector is undergoing a long overdue restyling, writes India Inc. Founder & CEO Manoj Ladwa.

The Indian textiles industry is a $100-billion giant, which employs about 50 million people, making it the country’s largest employer in the organised sector. It is also one of the largest contributors to the export trade, accounting for nearly 15 per cent of India’s total exports. This 5,000 year old industry is arguably also the oldest in the world. So, it might appear a bit strange for me to then call this moulting giant a sunrise sector until you realise that the headline figures, as impressive as they are, merely scratch the surface of its untapped potential.

The Indian textile sector already has all the ingredients necessary for global leadership: abundant raw material both natural and man made talented and relatively cost-effective labour, world class design talent and an entrepreneurial class with astute business acumen.

The one key input that this sector lacked so far was sufficient governmental support in the form of freedom from bureaucratic red tape and official zeal to push ahead of all players.

With an ambitious minister like Smriti Irani now in charge of the ministry and the full support of a ‘can-do-will-do’ Indian Prime Minister, that last requirement is now no longer a constraint.

The opportunities are massive. India has a minuscule sub-four per cent share in readymade gar-ments. This is the segment where the maximum value can be captured. It’s also the segment in which India lags behind countries such as China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Philippines. There is no reason for this status quo to continue, and I’m glad to see that the Indian government is actively collaborating with the industry to fix the situation.

After decades of gathering dust in the proverbial closet, the textiles sector is witnessing a rejuve-nation.

Global majors such as Zara, Benetton, Levi’s, Marks & Spencer, H&M, as well as Indian majors such as the Aditya Birla Group, Raymond and Bombay Dyeing are investing billions of dollars on both the front and back ends of their operations, to use India both as a sourcing base as well as a market for their products.

Wages are rising in China, diminishing the competitive edge of its producers, many of whom are contract robbers for large Western buyers. These American and European principals, as well as many Chinese companies, are now looking for other destinations to move their factories. It is the perfect opportunity for India to step up its game and capitalise on this shift in the global market. And there is every indication that the Indian industry, with the proactive support of the Narendra Modi government, is working towards doing so.

India is the largest producer of cotton and jute, and the second-largest producer of both silk and man-made fibres in the world. Its large pool of talented workers, abundant local sourcing oppor-tunities for the wide range of materials and the thousands of design school graduates mean India can easily achieve the required dramatic ramp up in capacity. The nearly $1billion Textile Policy unveiled recently aims to facilitate precisely this transition.

The textile sector, which is highly labour intensive, has a huge job potential and can generate mil-lions of low, medium and high skilled jobs for the large battery of young Indians who enter the In-dian employment market every month. The latter being a useful resource, with more and more Indian designers from Dhruv Kapoor and Soham Dave to industry names like Ritu Kumar and Sa-bhyasachi Mukherji taking on a revivalist approach to Indian textiles and fabrics. India’s National Institute of Fashion Design would do well to extend this heritage approach towards training future designers. It is a little-known fact that ancient Rome yes, the fabled Roman Empire had to im-pose a partial embargo on imports of Indian textiles because Indian merchants were taking away a disproportionate amount of Roman gold, creating major problems for the Roman economy.

Such was the draw and value of Indian textiles in an earlier age.

The current shifts in the global market mean the entire western market, as well as those in Africa, South America and the Far East, could be up for grabs. If Irani and her team works closer with In-dia’s Commerce Ministry to explore ways in which to boost exports, especially in Africa, with a major focus on job creation, this market or at least a part of it could easily fall into India’s lap.

The next few years should be an interesting time for Irani, and if she and her team can pull this transition off, they might just restore the historical status Indian textiles once enjoyed in the world.

Manoj Ladwa is the founder of India Inc. and chief executive of MLS Chase Group @manojladwa

Arun Jaitley significantly ramped up India’s ties with Japan in one of his last major foreign visits before handing over the defence portfolio to Cabinet colleague Nirmala Sitharaman.

India’s outgoing defence minister, Arun Jaitley, left no doubts about India’s close ties with its neighbour Japan during a recently concluded tour of the country in early September.

The bilateral Defence Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo saw Jaitley and his Japanese counterpart, Itsunori Onodera, clinch a range of significant tie-ups in the field of defence cooperation, combat exercises and exchanges and counter-terrorism. The significant ramping up of ties is undoubtedly being viewed as a counter-balance to the increasingly volatile situation in the region, with India’s continued tensions with China over Doklam and North Korea’s increasingly belligerent overtures with missile tests.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal, as the minister in charge of India’s Ministry of Food Process Industries, has been on a worldwide mission to attract investors to the country’s $915bn farm-to-fork ecosystem. During a recent visit to London, ‘India Investment Journal’ was given an insight into her plans for India’s first-ever World Food India summit this year.

What is the investment update since your last visit to the UK?

From our last meeting, all the big retail chains were hoping for some relaxation in the FDI [foreign direct investment] policy. The existing model in India is only for food and most of them do food plus other items. That is a decision the government will be taking very shortly and the serious interests will become apparent once that clarity is there.

Demographics, rising incomes and a low existing base all point towards a paradigm shift in the fortunes of India’s still fledgling food retail sector.

It can potentially become the largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) and will definitely play a major role in realising the Prime Minister’s goal of doubling farm incomes by 2022. Food retail, the largest component of India’s more than $500-billion retail sector, is standing at the cusp of greatness. How its fortunes play out over the next five to 10 years could well decide the success of the government’s ambitious Make in India initiative as well as the direction of politics by influencing how the critical farm lobby votes in future elections.

The Indian textiles sector has received much-needed attention but its future continues to hang in balance unless bold initiatives begin to pay off.

The Indian textile industry is the country’s oldest, going back five millennia, and its modern day avatar employs more than 45 million people, making it the country’s second largest employer after agriculture.

Over the last couple of decades, however, this industry has been facing global and domestic headwinds that are threatening its continued wellbeing. But governmental and industry efforts to overcome these challenges also offer considerable upsides and the proposed renewal of the industry promises to rejuvenate it and make it ready for the challenges of the 21st century.