Zeroing In On The Winners

Business World, March 19, 2012
Consistent performance and growth were the key criteria

It has been a little over two decades since India opened up its doors to the world. The first decade was critical in building a base for global trade. The real growth in India’s trade started to take place after 2000. A quick look at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) numbers say it all — the share of India’s exports in global exports doubled from a mere 0.67 per cent in 2000 to 1.4 per cent in 2010. During the period, India also moved up from a rank of 31 into the league of 20 leading exporting countries.

But despite the sharp growth in trade, India is still way behind the leaders — China and the United States. The two countries together currently account for nearly 19 per cent of the world’s exports.

The difference is not just in the sheer volume of exports. The basket of India’s exports, too, has changed substantially. India is no longer just an exporter of commodities but finished goods that comprise a large chunk of Indian exports today. That’s what we tried to look at while selecting the winners for the first ever Business world International Business Awards.

The survey for the awards looked at the performance of Indian exports over the last three years ending March 2011. To begin with, we identified four sectors: auto & engineering; gems & jewellery; pharma & chemicals; and IT & ITeS. Together, these categories accounted for more than a quarter of India’s exports.

Methodology Debate

A jury consisting of former director general of foreign trade (DGFT) Shyamal Ghosh, Bipul Chatterjee, deputy executive director, CUTS International and Surjit. S. Bhalla, chairman of Oxus Investments, chose consistency of performance and sustained growth as the key parameters for selecting winners across all categories. The jury also provided a rerspective on the future direction of India’s exports. It was preceded by a debate on how export growth could be used as a key parameter to shortlist the winners. The members also brought their experience to the assessment.

While in some cases the winner’s selection was unanimous, in others the jury members brought their personal knowledge and understanding of companies to bear on the exercise before zeroing in on the winner.

To shortlist the companies, the jury identified those companies that had made a mark by venturing into totally new export destinations . The other factor that the jury looked at was how the export basket of the country has changed. The jury acknowledged that the years under review, financial years 2008-09 to 2010-11, were tumultuous for global trade. In the emerging corporations (sales of between Rs 500-2,000 crore) category, the focus was on innovation.

Pick of the Lot

This being the first year of the Businessworld International Business Awards, the jury took a close look at the numbers and how they changed over the assessment period.

Maruti Suzuki India was the unanimous winner in the auto and engineering category. What tilted the balance in Maruti’s favour was the fact that the company had been instrumental in creating a new market for “Made in India” cars in the Latin American nations of Peru and Chile. However, Maruti has been exporting cars from 1987. In many categories, the winners were picked largely on the basis of consistency of performance in exports.

Mumbai-based Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) was adjudged the winner in the IT & ITeS category thanks to its sustained growth over the period despite the high level of exports. The fact that TCS has offices in over 40 countries across the world was a clear indicator of how the company has a global presence.

In the gems & jewellery category, too, the jury was unanimous in the selection of Kolkata-based Shree Ganesh Jewellery as the winner. After all, the jewellery maker has seen its exports grow 47 per cent over the three-year period, which was the highest among the shortlisted companies.

In the pharma & chemicals category, all votes went for Gujarat Fluorochemicals that has reinvented itself at least twice over to meet the conditions imposed under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

US Technology Corporation (winner of the emerging corporation category) was selected since the jury was well aware of the power-saving innovations of the company. While there were many nominations for the CFO of the year award, the shortlist comprised of individuals who made a difference to their companies. Rajendra Prasad, president and CFO of SRF, had done just that. A former banker and civil servant, Prasad was instrumental in helping SRF not only enter new markets, but also in acquiring companies that resulted in SRF emerging as a global player in belting fabric.

These are still early days for India as a major exporter. Over the years, as manufacturing gains ground, exports are expected to increase further. During this financial year, India’s exports are expected to be in the region of $300 billion. That could just be the stepping stone for making it to the top 10 exporting nations.

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