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The BoF Podcast: Understanding India’s Ascent

India’s young population, thriving tech sector and spiritual roots add up to a promising future, said the Sun Group vice chairman, speaking at BoF’s VOICES.
Shiv Khemka | Source: Getty Images for The Business of Fashion

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OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — China's economy may be bigger, but India has the "secret sauce" to propel the country toward a prosperous future, Sun Group vice chairman Shiv Khemka said on stage at VOICES, BoF's annual gathering for big thinkers.

“We’re a thriving, noisy, joyful, confusing, confounding democracy in the cradle of an ancient, vibrant, youthful and creative culture,” he said. “There’s some secret sauce that has allowed us to survive and rejuvenate for centuries.”

India's rise is one of the 10 trends for 2019 highlighted in the latest State of Fashion report from BoF and McKinsey & Co. Though poorer than China, which is the world's biggest luxury market, India is expected to grow faster over the next few years, and surpass its neighbour in population. By 2022, the country's apparel market is projected to reach $59.3 billion, approaching that of the UK or Germany.

Khemka said he’s hopeful that the country’s young population — 50 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people are under 25 — will provide a catalyst for rapid development. But India’s main challenge is finding ways to support its rapid growth, including meeting soaring energy needs. Leadership to solve environmental and social problems is also needed, something the fashion industry must help with, he added.

“The fashion industry has a huge voice on the planet. It’s very important to use this voice to actually force leadership,” Khemka said. “We’re on a burning platform, there isn’t any time. We need to use our voice for change as fast as we can.”

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