How important is India to GE, and how can India’s place in GE’s plans be compared to its focus on the U.S. and China?
GE has been in India for more than a century, with our first investments being in hydro power back in 1902. Our growth here has been in the last 20 years, as we see India both as an important market and an extraordinary source of talent. With annual revenues of about $2 billion, we have a long way to grow with and in India.
How will GE contribute to India’s leadership in forging tomorrow’s green economy, and how best can that contribution be measured?
India has several development needs, but right up there in the priorities are some of the things we do, especially energy and healthcare. Energy use in India is growing rapidly, with 70% today generated through the use of coal. Clean energy development is therefore key, and our gas turbine business is currently our largest source of revenue in India. We expect both wind and solar to be growth areas going forward. Our transport business, focused in India on locomotives and fuel-efficient aviation engines, provides a significant energy and carbon-efficient contribution to India’s burgeoning requirements in this area.
But “green” is not just about the environment; it also means healthy people. Our health diagnostics products have a contribution to make here, especially with the healthymagination focus on lower cost and more mobile products suited for the rural Indian context.
India is challenged to bring more people out of poverty than any other nation: How can GE’s technological leadership and business innovation help address this challenge?
Technology is not the single answer to addressing poverty, but it can be a major contributor if developed and deployed effectively. GE does a lot of large-scale technologies, and these are and will remain a crucial part of the development mix. Increasingly, however, we complement this traditional strength with smaller-scale technologies sorely in need in India today, such as our water purification technology that can remove life-endangering arsenic, and off-grid power-generation equipment using available biomass with no need for electricity. One sign of the growing importance of this more recent technology thrust to GE is the increasing collaboration across our international R&D capabilities—especially between emerging economies such as India and China.
India has a vibrant and important civil society: How has GE engaged with this community, and how might this engagement be improved going forward?
GE’s profile in India is of a company that is a long-term player investing significantly, creating jobs and bringing leading technologies to bear on the country’s development. We partner a great deal with government, given our business focus of energy, healthcare and transportation. Our operations do not attract concern or criticism for their environmental or social footprint. Operating in India, however, means engaging with communities and NGOs concerned with community development and broader social and environmental issues. Mainly, this is achieved by contributing to communities in need, and we encourage and support employee engagement through volunteerism in education and health initiatives.
Which Indian companies do you admire most, especially for their approach to integrating sustainability into their strategies and practices?
Operating in India means being part of a broader business community that is increasingly world class in every respect. It would be wrong to single out any particular companies that impress me, but there is no doubt in my mind that Indian businesses will be among the leaders in building tomorrow’s sustainable businesses and associated practices.