World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ index, an annual report compiled as part of the Doing Business project, aims to “exhaustively cover business regulation and reform in different cities and regions within a nation” in an effort to “provide data on the ease of doing business, rank each location, and recommend reforms to improve performance in each of the indicator areas”. Needless to say it is considered by many to be a significant indicator of a given nation’s economic status and potential.

India’s performance in the index is historically not all they would desire, with the bustling South Asian country placing as low as 130th among 190 countries in last year’s rankings. This year however their prospects look markedly brighter, as the nation has managed to leap 30 places in a single year and now sits in the 100th position in the newly-updated index for 2018.

According to Nisha Desai Biswal of the US-India Business Council (USIBC), a prominent US-India business advocacy group, the improved ranking is expected to be a significant asset when it comes to increasing the flow of Foreign Direct investment (FDI) into the Indian economy.

“This is a significant movement and a very important barometer of India moving the right direction and in creating the kind of channels that will attract (foreign direct) investment,” said Biswal, who once served as part of the Obama administration in the role of Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia prior to taking on her current position as head of the USIBC. “FDI is like water. It seeks the path of least resistance. So the more you do to lower resistance the easier and faster the FDI will flow. India’s image has been on an upward trajectory.

“…there has been a change in perception about the opportunity, change in perception about the attractiveness of the market and a change in perception about the ability of investors to be able to navigate that market.”

This change in perception has, according to Biswal, helped in recent years to raise India to the top of the table in terms of FDI interest and actual realised investment. Having said that, she does admit that more work is required is India is to truly realise its potential.

“Let’s be clear - do people think that the reforms have gone far enough? No. Neither in India nor in the US would anybody say. I don’t think the Prime Minister himself would say that the reforms have gone as far as fast as he would have liked. But has there been a change in perception... absolutely,” stated Biswal.

Whether Biswal’s efforts to secure an increase in FDI on behalf of the Indian economy will ultimately bear fruit remains to be seen; what is clear from the index however is that India is indeed on the rise as a location for business and enterprise.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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