Europe and India: The Way Ahead for Transport

Mar 29, 2021 |

How European tech can integrate with India’s transport development

By Mangal Dev, Head of Hitachi Rail, India and South Asia region


For European and Italian firms there are good opportunities in the Indian transport sector: the Indian government is open to external specialist technology companies that would like to set up their complete value chain for global markets from India.

Why India? The country offers a myriad of opportunities not only in terms of skilled human resources, raw materials, and an ecosystem of start-ups and SMEs, but also a favorable environment when it comes to ease of doing business. 

More importantly, India offers a market of 1.3 billion people.
The country’s goal is to become a 5 trillion dollar economy and that means it needs to greatly accelerate its infrastructure development
It’s important to look at the ongoing transformation, policies and plans based on important budget allocations for transport infrastructure: railways, highways, and urban transport, waterways and airports.
 Italian and European companies are already expanding in Indiaseizing the opportunities offered by the major infrastructurdevelopment currently underway. 
So, how can cooperation between European technology integrators and companies ready to receive and adapt these technologies in countries with a large user base, such as India, be developed?
Companies driven by the Sustainable Development Goals have a long-term outlook and will find it easier to cooperate with each otheras the technological complementarity with a strong foundation will be equally important to consider. 

Most of the time the challenge is posed by the need for change unless there is a strong desire, willingness to innovate for efficiency and productivity for a bigger cause.

However, this higher cause’ — one that is common for the organization, the community and the country — is seldom an ideal driver for such change. Therefore, the role of a change management facilitator has become quite important to help drive the meaning of the change for its economic, social and environmental value.

India is a vast country with a market that is to be viewed to have a favorable pyramid topaccessible to all foreign companies based on the solutions with features satisfying European market needs with European cost base. 

The middle layer is most crucial, it demands innovation with design frugality and is best attempted by local leadership and local talent, the success of which should be measured by a different yardstickenabled by the impetus of its foreign parent. Addressing the middle layer will unlock the unorganized bottom layer of the pyramid as well but with complete flexibility and authority in the hands of the local management.
Could India become a model for the application of transport technologies which can be replicated in other SAARC areas?
If you succeed in India, it will be much easier to replicate that model in other SAARC regions. For example, what is successful in West Bengal can easily be replicated in Bangladesh, what is successful in Tamil Nadu is likely to be successful in Sri Lanka, and so on. 
India will offer (large) scale volumes for SAARC countries, and the hub-and-spoke model will therefore create good cohesion between a specific region in India and its neighboring SAARC partner with ease of connectivity in the same time zone.

If being successful in India means technology exchange, can trainers be brought in to upgrade the country’s local workforce and develop their tech skills uniformly so that they’ll be on par with other developed nations?
With the industry 4.0 revolution driving digitalization, AI, ML and IoT, there will be a constant need to retrain human resources in their respective job functions.

This means that retraining and upgrading the Indian workforce’s skill sets calls for an effective, interactive educational environment and rotational job training.

However, it will take experienced trainers to assess the individuals and the best practices for a given situation, so it will be productive to work towards developing in-house training staff to ensure the consistency and scalability of the programs. Such programs should be implemented locally in India and perhaps even as a joint initiative between several like-minded companies.

India also has initiatives underway to generate ideas for reducing road traffic, such as a recent seminar organized by the Indian government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi on “Make in India”, in which all ministries, government agencies, public and state companies as well as private industry partners were brought together.

There, the goal of the workshop was initiated from the top, continued through government agencies, and then to the (local) executive bodies. In two days of workshops, divided into several working groups, healthy debates were held and a common consensus reached.

The road maps prepared by each of the working groups were then presented to the PM. Indian Railways also organized a brainstorming session with their employees, which resulted in some out-of-the-box ideas. These conclaves are absolutely necessary, but what is important are the final objectives and the total commitment with the involvement of all stakeholders.

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