Bain's India leader Karan Singh reflects on Covid-19 opportunities

30 April 2020 3 min. read

Healthcare, manufacturing and digitalisation are three areas of opportunity for India to rebound from the Covid-19 crisis, according to Bain & Company India Managing Director Karan Singh. Speaking to Livemint, Singh explained how India’s economy could transform itself through the crisis.

The healthcare market in India was already a significant opportunity before the crisis, with a particularly large market for eHealth services such as online consultations and diagnostic procedures. Demand for these services is only likely to increase under the circumstances, according to Bain's Karan Singh, while additional opportunities have also emerged from the crisis according to Singh.

“India also has the potential to become a global pharmaceuticals hub and an opportunity to become the research and clinical trial hub, a $35 billion opportunity over the next 5 years, enabling higher value added jobs,” he said.

The next opportunity is manufacturing. The priority for businesses across the globe at the moment is to restructure their supply chains and minimise risk. India has the chance to identify areas where it could become central to global supply chains, and subsequently grow its market share in manufacturing.

Karan Singh, India Managing Director - Bain & Company

Manufacturing is a segment of India’s economy that needs strengthening, an objective that the government has been actively involved in achieving. The Make in India campaign is one example of this, as is the central drive to increase foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows. The current global circumstances offer a significant opportunity.

The third opportunity is to use the current transitions to digital platforms as a catalyst for digitalisation, including the government’s egovernance scheme Digital India. As the country works from home, education, business and healthcare has moved online, driving substantial parts of India’s population to increase their online presence.

The government could use this opportunity to develop its online systems, while the business environment has far-reaching opportunities in this regard. Financial technology (FinTech) is one such opportunity, according to Singh. India is already home to the world’s largest market of FinTech adopters, and the growing reliance on digital platforms for financial activity could give this market a considerable boost.

These are all long term opportunities. In the short term, Singh recommends that businesses focus on their continuity plans, making sure to prioritise their employee safety and satisfaction. He breaks this long and short term dichotomy into two approaches: Act Now and Plan Now.

“Focus of Act Now is on employee safety, ensuring business continuity, and taking dramatic measure to manage liquidity and zero base costs. Plan Now is about preparing for recovery and thinking through retooling the business for future as we see significant shifts in consumer behaviour where there is a flight to quality, value, convenience and technology,” said Singh.

Last month, Tom De Waele, Managing Director at Bain & Company in the Middle East, outlined at Covid-19 response guide for executives in the consumer products industry.