Invest India’s origins can be traced back to Gujarat. Between 2001 and 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was prime minister, the nation’s fourth-largest by GDP created an Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) called the Industrial Extension Bureau (iNDEXTb), which monitors investment projects online.
When Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, he started the process of developing a world-class IPA.
In fact, Invest India was formed in the year 2009 as a 49:51 partnership between the government and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). It operated as a query processing cell for the first seven years. There was a part time guy appointed by FICCI at the time who had to juggle a lot of other tasks. In fact, not much has happened, as Invest India’s role is not well defined. “There was a small room inside FICCI with not enough space to hold meetings with investors,” says a person familiar with the matter.
When Chief Executive Officer Bagla arrived in February 2015, that was when state governments were also named equity partners, with the Center and the states each owning 49 percent. “It’s a very strong statement about Indian federalism,” Bagla thought. Soon the concept of Invest India started to take shape. The Bagla team, which finally got a home in Vigyan Bhawan in January 2017, started creating new concept notes, introduced new ways to create research reports, showed outsiders where opportunities are, and so on.
The private sector nature of the agency, Bagla says, exposes you to the buy side and the sell side. For example, from an investor’s point of view, the government will not be able to see the minute details of how the investor’s mind works and what the investor is looking for. “When we have a whole team here with a private sector background, they know exactly how investors think,” explains Bagla, who also has direct access to senior government officials.
With over 411 employees, the majority of whom are young women, Invest India addresses every nitty-gritty of investing. For decades, India has lacked an IPA. The top 20 FDI destination countries have always been very active in the area of investment promotion.
“India has never had an IPA despite the complexity of having to navigate numerous agencies across central and state governments to set up businesses. To change red carpet routines, to familiarize investors to ease the investor’s journey, to facilitate investment and to be a one-stop-shop, Invest has India will do an excellent job towards the honorable Prime Minister’s vision of making India the most preferred investment destination in the world,” says AK Sharma, energy minister of the state state of Uttar Pradesh. Sharma earlier worked closely with Modi in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Although Invest India has one of the smallest budgets among the top 20 investment promotion agencies in the world, the agency does big things. With an average age of 29, similar to India, Bagla and his enthusiastic young team aren’t complaining.