Adi Godrej, the 73-year old patriarch and chairman of Indian conglomerate Godrej Group has high hopes for the country’s economy.
“I think by the next financial year, India will be the fastest growing major economy in the world. I’m very optimistic about India’s economic future, and I feel that by 2050… India will become the largest economy in the world.”
Speaking to CNBC’s Oriel Morrison in an “Entrepreneur Asia: Power Players” interview, Godrej praised Narendra Modi’s government for its bold vision to develop India’s economy through campaigns like “Make in India” and “Smart Cities”.
“The Modi government is very growth oriented, very reform oriented, so I believe they’ll do good work. But of course, we have a raucous democracy. Nothing moves as fast as one would like to, just by clicking one’s fingers. But I expect we’ll do very well.”
That said, Godrej admits more can be done to encourage entrepreneurship and improve the ease of doing business in India.
“We’re a free enterprise country, but a lot of restrictions have been brought in in terms of ease of doing business over the years, and that needs to be cleared. We must make entrepreneurs feel that they can work easily, work freely without the tax man sitting on their backs, without bureaucrats holding things up. I think this government has clearly defined its intention to do that.”
Godrej currently heads the 118 year of Godrej Group, whose business spans consumer goods, real estate, appliances, security solutions, agri-business and many other sectors.
The Mumbai-based company now has operations in 28 countries around the world and aims to expand to more emerging markets.
While the group remains very much family owned, its subsidiaries such as Godrej Industries and Godrej Properties are listed on the India’s stock exchanges.
“The advantages of family businesses, is that decision-making can be very quick. Unlike non-family corporates, where the Chairman keeps changing, where the directors keep changing,” said Godrej.
“(But) we insist that only extremely well-educated family members join the group. They can remain shareholders, but if they want to join the group, they must be at least as well-educated as our management trainees, who are highly educated people,” he added.
Godrej earned his MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management before taking the helm of his family business.
Successor still uncertain
Today, all three of his children, Nisa, Tanya and Pirojsha are working in the company.
But when asked which of the three will be his successor, Godrej was reluctant to reveal details.
“We haven’t decided that yet. We have a plan on how to go about it, but I think all three will play very important roles. We have several companies in the group, so we’ll need to plan.”