Business Traveller

India's economy swells; can it handle waves of business travelers?

Michelle Cohan, CNN Updated 11th April 2016
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(CNN) — As the UK's Duke and Duchess of Cambridge set off for a week-long tour of India, it's clear the world's largest democracy remains a country on the rise. The country of extremes is now a country in transition.
With growth of 7.5% in 2015, India now has the world's fastest-growing economy.
And while tourism hasn't grown in tandem, India is home to the fastest-growing aviation sector -- not to mention the No. 1 hotel in the world, according to TripAdvisor.
Air giant Etihad has partnered with India's Jet Airways, hoping to capitalize on the profitable airspace, and GE has been manufacturing there for some time. Auto companies such as Ford and Mercedes have set up shop.
Even so, government regulations hinder both domestic and international operations, making it a sometimes difficult place to do business.
And from a development standpoint -- with 300 million people living without electricity -- India has a long way to go. If India's going to rise economically, it'll need strong partners.

The U.S. Ambassador's perspective

There's no shortage of potential suitors, but the United States believes it stands out in front.
"It's really about improving the ease of doing business," Richard Verma, U.S. Ambassador to India, tells CNN.
"Is the tax regime fair? Do you have enough power and water to run your plant or business? What's the intellectual property environment like?"
Modernizing India will require more than just good wishes and fine words. It will take lining up behind what India needs, not just demanding open markets and for barriers to come down.

Change isn't swift or easy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been at the helm of pushing reforms that would end these long-standing obstructions to commerce in India. However, change has not been swift or easy.
"There's no question we could do a lot better, and we've been pushing for certain reforms," says Verma.
Verma's mission is to make sure the friendship between the U.S. and India keeps blossoming. He has only been stationed in India for a year, yet his envoy is a little like coming home.
Indian by heritage, American by upbringing, he spent time with his grandmother in Punjab as a child, and that passion for his homeland has never left him.
"Look at all the people competing in this economy. That's why people are so excited about India, they can talk about India as a global power now -- economically, strategically, politically.
"You can't afford not to be here."