NEW DELHI: India can become a key player in the global supply chain in the post-COVID era but it has to carefully "think through" what its place would be and take control of its destiny in terms of critical items, else it could be left holding at the negative end of the whole supply chain, former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi said on Thursday.
Interacting with Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant in an event organised by e-commerce major Amazon, Nooyi also stressed on the need to revamp the education system in India stating that all of the country's 1.3 billion people deserve the opportunity to have access to outstanding education and then participate in any way in its economic growth.
"Anytime when there is a major disruptive action, like the pandemic, it gives countries, companies an opportunity to stop and think about how to reset for the future....now coming out of COVID-19, India has to really rethink what its place is going to be in the global supply chain," she said.
Elaborating her point, Nooyi said India has to identify what kind of manufacturing is it going to control, what kind of critical supplies is it going to manufacture for itself in the country.
"One of the things that COVID has shown around the world is that if you don't control your destiny in critical items, you could in fact be left holding at the negative end of the whole supply chain," she said, citing examples of non availability of PPEs, vaccines and critical drugs in many countries.
She added that many of them are now "beginning to say we have to rethink what we control in terms of critical components in terms of global supply chain". "If India were to approach this whole self sufficiency in a very systematic, carefully thought through way, India could well be a major centre for the supply of critical life saving drugs, vaccines, PPE, ventilators, you name it, critical components for today and tomorrow and you can be an innovative, low cost, high scale manufacturing country," Nooyi asserted.
Stating that India's future is very bright, "especially if you marry the message of cost and quality with education", Nooyi said, "To me the big issue is education. As you start shifting towards more manufacturing, more high tech stuff, more software driving products and services, you are going to need a lot of people in India to service the industries of the future."
In order to ensure that the growth is equally spread across the country, she said, there is a big opportunity for revamping education in profound ways, the 1.3 billion people in the country deserve the opportunity to have access to outstanding education and then participate in any way.
While Indian education system is brilliant, with herself a product of it, Nooyi asserted that "we have got to think beyond the IITs and the IIMs, the top schools to all the schools in the country, right from kindergarten to the colleges".
"My only request is when you think about the education system, don't think about the top quartile, think about the bottom quartile. We have to bring the third and fourth quartile quality up to the quality of the top quartile," she said.
Nooyi also stressed on the need for appropriate governance in large companies, startups and public enterprises in order to avoid "malfeasance" in any of the operations that "happens inevitably" She said it is more important for the small companies to make sure that their claims are accurate, their quality standards are high and whatever they say and they make is on the label and there is no mismatch between what is on the label and what's on the product.
"Having a vibrant ecosystem, having appropriate regulatory and oversight bodies becomes equally important. At the end of the day, India should be viewed as a reliable high quality, low cost outstanding supplier for itself and for the world," she said.
Kant, on his part, highlighted several steps taken by the government, such as the production linked incentives (PLI) for key sectors to enable India become an important player in the global supply chain. He also stressed on the National Education Policy through which the government is trying to bring about a change in the country's education system and make the country's youth ready for the future.
Nooyi also pointed out that while India has improved on ease of doing business, every now and then it gets a rap for being bureaucratic, and digitisation of the processes of governance will help improve further.
She also stressed on the need for integrity, removing corruption, protection of intellectual property and consistency of policy so that more global companies can come to India and set up their factories and can become a part of the manufacturing ecosystem in the country.