In 1991, political turmoil and the resulting economic crisis led India’s finance minister, Manmohan Singh, to submit a revolutionary budget proposal to his country’s parliament. His proposed reforms included devaluing the rupee and abolishing many of the stringent regulations that prevented thefree flow of trade. These unprecedented measures projected India into the global marketplace, accelerating economic growth and significantly reducing poverty. Twenty-seven years later, India’s economy continues to grow. According to a recent report by Euromonitor International, India was projected to be the fastest-growing major economy in 2017 and the third largest consumer market, ahead of Germany and Japan, by 2030. By then, India is also slated to have the largest working-age population on the planet. To put this another way, “one quarter of India's 1.1 billion people were under the age of 15, more than half were under age 25, and more than two-thirds were under age 35,” according to a 2009 study by The Heritage Foundation. Despite India’s burgeoning economy, there are concerns that the country may not have enough jobs to support the population without similar reforms in education, employment, and e-commerce. Nevertheless, Naturevibe Botanicals’ CEO, Rishabh Chokhani, believes there are three ways in which India can compete and collaborate with the western marketplace.
- Shared interest in organic foods and natural products
Numerous articles reveal that US millennials, including the younger Generation Y, and Generation Z have embraced the natural health industry, taking it from a yuppie niche to a widespread way of life. As interest in the market grows, competition will reduce prices, making organic foods and natural products increasingly affordable for the lower and middle classes.
According to research, a similar interest is growing in India, where the holistic philosophy known as Ayurveda has been in use for centuries. This natural approach to health and wellness uses a positive mindset and organic products – such as botanicals, herbals, and essential oils – to achieve an optimum state of mind-and-body wellbeing. These are extensions of techniques that are already being used in spas and yoga studios throughout the US.As of 2011, the National Ayurveda Medical Association had over 30 training programs throughout the country, while the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine offered a four-part physician training course in association with the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Association of America (MAAA) – the organization that originally pioneered the use of Indian meditation, yoga, and Ayurveda techniques in the US in the late 1950s.
2. Shared interest in technology-based entrepreneurship
Of India’s nearly 1.3 billion inhabitants, 521.9 million are employed and 47% areemployed in agriculture. This makes agrarian occupations the primary ballast of India’s workforce and economy, despite cross-cultural stereotypes that routinely feature technology. Common commodities include dairy products, cotton, fish, goats, jute, lentils, oilseed, onions, potatoes, poultry, rice, sheep, sugarcane, tea, and wheat.
However, with the population growing at an annual rate of 1.17%, efforts must be made in other sectors to support the growing influx of workers that are expected to flood the workforce by 2030. Fortunately, India is fast becoming a hub of entrepreneurship and digital interconnectivity, which has lowered the unemployment rate and provided jobs with a greater degree of technical skill to match the efforts that are also being made in education. This growing emphasis on entrepreneurship and e-commerce has increased the use of smartphones and the popularity of online shopping.
3. Shared interest in online shopping
US millennials are well known for their online shopping habits, which have closed the doors of more than one superstoreand jeopardized the commercial health of countless others. Stores like Mervyn’s have gone bankrupt, while chains like Kohl’s are struggling to survive. Good quality photos, free shipping, fast delivery, and easy exchanges or returns have fueled online sales, making Internet shopping a fast, convenient way to make purchases, even if shoppers can’t view the product in person.
In India, the November 2016 demonetization policy aims to ditch cash flow to encourage digital purchases. This is in keeping with the greater emphasis on technology, entrepreneurship, and a free-market economy. As cash flow ceases and startups continue to flourish, online sales will spike – not just in India, but also across continents.
Thus, India’s knowledge of agriculture, combined with its increasing openness to a free-market economy, is good news for the growing interest in holistic health practices on both side of the Atlantic. By devoting more land to the cultivation of superfoods and botanical products (which are already a large part of Indian culture) and using technology to market and sell them online, both the East and the West could benefit by the alliance.