BOSTON—Chanda Kochhar, one of the most powerful women in the world and CEO and managing director of ICICI Bank Limited, India’s largest private sector bank, remained bullish on India’s growth and economy and urged for a genderless leadership paradigm where success and opportunities are based on talent and ability and not on gender.
Kichhar spoke at the jam packed Burden Auditorium of the Harvard Business School as part of India Conference 2016, an annual India-focused conference organized by Indian students at the prestigious Harvard University.
She said when one looks at India versus the world today, the global economy seems volatile as different countries are following different economic models and commodity prices are their lowest.
“India is definitely appearing as a sweet spot,” said Kochhar. “Macroeconomic indicators for India are looking very very good.”
With India’s Gross Domestic Product growing at 7.3 percent, its foreign reserves at $349 billion, inflation down, a huge potential for infrastructure development opportunities and its unique demographics, Kochhar said that now India must take advantage of these factors, especially its demographic dividends and enormous opportunities in its infrastructure sector.
“We need to remain focused on executing all the intent that we have laid by ourselves. That is going to be the big test for India,” said Kochhar, adding that India must remain focused on executing various ambitious programs like Make in India and strengthen institutional framework.
“There is a genuine effort and a genuine intent on the part of the government to make these changes happen,” she said. “We are seeing a whole lot of focus on e-governance.”
Kochhar said India also must focus on long-term priorities like education and skill development.
“Only when we equip our youth with the education, with skills and make them employable, then only India would get the true demographic dividend,” Kochhar said.
She said it is also important to eliminate gender disparities in the country and focus on talents and abilities of people and not on the basis of gender. The only way to remove gender bias is to look at the individuals and not as men or women.
She said another big change in India is the increasing participation of women in the economy where they account for about 17 percent of the GDP.