|This dialogue hosted by NCAER, Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) and Policy Research Institute (PRI), Ministry of Finance, Japan, sought to explore possible areas of cooperation between India and Japan, with a focus on one of the biggest challenges that India faces—skills and jobs. Held at the ADBI Office in Tokyo, the dialogue brought together senior policymakers, academics, think tanks, and private sector experts from both the countries. The NCAER team present in Tokyo for the Dialogue included Shekhar Shah, Rajesh Chadha and Prerna Prabhakar while K P Krishnan, Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India, and Rajat Nag, Distinguished Fellow, NCAER, and other members of the NCAER research team participated through videoconferencing.
The first session on “Growth, Investment and Trade Challenges: India and Japan” was chaired by Chul Ju Kim, ADBI Deputy Dean. The speakers at this session noted that while India now ranks 7th in the world in terms of nominal GDP, the country still faces growth, investment and trade challenges in reaching its high potential. In this context, the speakers stressed the importance of value-added manufacturing and prospects of RCEP for India. In addition to the macroeconomic challenges, the speakers focused on the significance of skill development especially supported by the public sector and Japan–India cooperation for infrastructure development in India to facilitate domestic and global connectivity. The discussants, Toshinori Doi, President, PRI, and NCAER’s Rajat Nag and Rajesh Chadha shared the view that India and Japan are natural economic partners and hence there should be efforts to create a more business-friendly environment to reap the potential benefits. These efforts include streamlining excess regulation to facilitate inward FDI for India’s economic development.
The second session was on “Skilling India and promoting entrepreneurship to reap India’s demographic dividend”. It was chaired by Shekhar Shah, Director-General, NCAER. K P Krishnan, speaking from the NCAER office, highlighted the Government of India’s various efforts on skilling. Maruti Suzuki’s initiative towards establishing a Japan–India Institute for Manufacturing (JIM) was also discussed in this session. The discussants, Takashi Sihimada, President, Indo Business Centre and Atul Satija, CEO and Founder, Nudge Foundation, highlighted the complementarity reflected in India’s demographic dividend and Japan’s shrinking workforce size, which provides a basis for a rich manufacturing collaboration between the two nations. Welcoming the ongoing bilateral cooperation, they also pointed out that such “skilling India” efforts need to be more output-driven and linked to formal education.
The last session on “Connecting India: Implications for infrastructure, digital, and urban development” was chaired by Toshiro Nishizawa, PRI Senior Visiting Scholar. The speakers noted the 15 bilateral MoUs signed this September across transportation, industrial and social sectors. JICA’s activities towards India’s inclusive and sustainable development formed a part of the deliberations. An interesting concept of infrastructure revenue bonds as a way to attract private financing for infrastructure investment in India was discussed during this session. Prerna Prabhakar as the discussant stressed the linkages between urban infrastructure and international cooperation through two channels—importance of urban development infrastructure in improving the investment climate and the role of foreign financial assistance and investment in creating the right infrastructure for urban development. She noted the role of digital technology such as GIS in effective infrastructure management, as has been demonstrated in a JICA-supported project.