About a decade ago, the Indian growth narrative was at an all time high. Information technology and healthcare companies from India came to the rescue of big businesses in the West by taking advantage of local labour costs and creating a new global delivery model. Beyond cost savings for these businesses, this new model had far reaching consequences -- like the potential to save millions of lives across Asia and Africa with a cheaper antiretroviral tablet.
Everything Indian became cool for a while. In the Lower East Side of New York, yoga studios popped up faster than Starbucks branches. Vegetarianism became sexy. All over the world people shook their hips and sang Jai Ho.
But let's face it. In the years since, the world has seen few bold innovations from India of that kind. Investors have been disappointed. Expectations have fallen short. All the promise and potential of India was that it? It's probably economically incorrect to say, but it is no surprise that the rupee has hit an all time low.
India needs to make a big, bold gesture. Not in the back offices of banks but bang in the middle of the global high street. A big fashion brand that takes on Zara and H&M could be just the kind of thing that could get everyone buzzing about India again.
We've talked before about the opportunity for a young and disruptive 'Born in Asia' fashion brand. Can India do it? We don't see why not.
India has one of the oldest and largest textile industries in the world. From raw material manufacturing to intricate handiwork to the production of new specialised fabrics, it is as much a part of their cultural heritage as it is historically recognised by luxury fashion retailers in Europe and America. This will give any fashion brand from India authenticity.
The challenge facing Indian companies is their ability to commercialise India's craft and creativity. If a brand from India wants to make it big, it will have to answer global needs as much as it reflects a sense of its Indian identity.
World wide disruption
If IT and pharmaceutical companies can teach fashion brands in India anything, it is to create a new model for the world that is better for everyone.
Fabindia has done this fabulously. It has connected rural artisans to modern urban markets and combined indigenous handicrafts with contemporary design. The suppliers - craftsmen, artisans and weavers are also shareholders of the company. Fabindia micro-finances these communities to support their growth and expansion.
The textile industry is a major source of employment in India, putting 35 million people to work. Adopting such a model would allow a brand to scale its venture in a sustainable and profitable way. If business can educate and empower communities, it provides a revolutionary model for the whole world.
Strong Indian flavour
If the IT industry could turn 'Made in India' into an advantage, fashion can do the same. India is a fashionista's dream. Its bold colours and contrasts, its beautiful and unique textures and fabrics, its expert craftsmanship. It's a story that can't wait to be told.
Most importantly it won't be the story for the sake of a story. But a story that's the beginning of a big ambition.
Made in India. But for the whole world.