Morgan Stanley
  • Thoughts on the Market Podcast
  • Dec 7, 2022

Global Thematics: What’s Behind India’s Growth Story?

With Michael Zezas and Ridham Desai


Michael Zezas: Welcome to Thoughts on the Market. I'm Michael Zezas, Morgan Stanley's Head of Global Thematic and Public Policy Research.

Ridham Desai: And I'm Ridham Desai, Morgan Stanley's Chief India Equity Strategist.

Michael Zezas: And on this special episode of Thoughts on the Market, we'll discuss India's growth story over the next decade and some key investment themes that global investors should pay attention to. It's Wednesday, December 7th, at 7 a.m. in New York.

Michael Zezas: Our listeners are likely well aware that over the past 25 years or so, India's growth has lagged only China's among the world's largest economies. And here at Morgan Stanley, we believe India will continue to outperform. In fact, India is now entering a new era of growth, which creates a once in a generation shift in opportunities for investors. We estimate that India's GDP is poised to more than doubled to $7.5 trillion by 2031, and its market capitalization could grow 11% annually to reach $10 trillion. Essentially, we expect India to drive about a fifth of global growth in the coming decade. So Ridham, what in your view are the main drivers behind India's growth story?

Ridham Desai: Mike, the full global trends of demographics, digitalization, decarbonization and deglobalization that we keep discussing about in our research files are favoring this new India. The new India, we argue, is benefiting from three idiosyncratic factors. The first one is India is likely to increase its share of global exports thanks to a surge in offshoring. Second, India is pursuing a distinct model for digitalization of its economy, supported by a public utility called India Stack. Operating at population scale India stack is a transaction led, low cost, high volume, small ticket size system with embedded lending. The digital revolution has already changed the way India handles documents, the way it invests and makes payments and it is now set to transform the way it lends, spends and ensures. With private credit to GDP at just 57%, a credit boom is in the offing, in our view. The third driver is India's energy consumption and energy sources, which are changing in a disruptive fashion with broad economic benefits. On the back of greater access to energy, we estimate per capita energy consumption is likely to rise by 60% to 1450 watts per day over the next decade. And with two thirds of this incremental supply coming from renewable sources, well in short, with this self-help story in play as you said, India could continue to outperform the world on GDP growth in the coming decade.

Michael Zezas: So let's dig into some of the specifics here. You mentioned the big surge in offshoring, which has resulted in India's becoming "the office of the world". Will this continue long term?

Ridham Desai: Yes, Mike. In the post-COVID environment, global CEOs appear more comfortable with work from home and also work from India. So the emergence of distributed delivery models, along with tighter labor markets globally, has accelerated outsourcing to India. In fact, the number of global in-house captive centers that opened in India over the past two years was double of that in the prior four years. During the pandemic years, the number of people employed in this industry in India rose by almost 800,000 to 5.1 million. And India's share in global services trade rose by 60 basis points to 4.3%. In the coming decade we think the number of people employed in India for jobs outside the country is likely to at least double to 11 million. And we think that global spending on outsourcing could rise from its current level of U.S. dollar 180 billion per year to about 1/2 trillion U.S. dollars by 2030.

Michael Zezas: In addition to being "the office of the world", you see India as a "factory to the world" with manufacturing going up. What evidence are we seeing of India benefiting from China moving away from the global supply chain and shifting business activity away from China?

Ridham Desai: We are anticipating a wave of manufacturing CapEx owing to government policies aimed at lifting corporate profits share and GDP via tax cuts, and some hard dollars on the table for investing in specific sectors. Multinationals are more optimistic than ever before about investing in India, and that's evident in the all-time high that our MNC sentiment index shows, and the government is encouraging investments by building both infrastructure as well as supplying land for factories. The trends outlined in Morgan Stanley's Multipolar World Thesis, a document that you have co authored, Mike, and the cheap labor that India is now able to offer relative to, say, China are adding to the mix. Indeed, the fact is that India is likely to also be a big consumption market, a hard thing for a lot of multinational corporations to ignore. We are forecasting India's per capita GDP to rise from $2,300 USD to about $5,200 USD in the next ten years. This implies that India's income pyramid offers a wide breadth of consumption, with the number of rich households likely to quintuple from 5 million to 25 million, and the middle class households more than doubling to 165 million. So all these are essentially aiding the story on India becoming a factory to the world. And the evidence is in the sharp jump in FDI that we are already seeing, the daily news flows of how companies are ramping up manufacturing in India, to both gain access to its market and to export to other countries.

Michael Zezas: So given all these macro trends we've been discussing, what sectors within India's economy do you think are particularly well-positioned to benefit both short term and longer term?

Ridham Desai: Three sectors are worth highlighting here. The coming credit boom favors financial services firms. The rise in per capita income and discretionary income implies that consumer discretionary companies should do well. And finally, a large CapEx cycle could lead to a boom for industrial businesses. So financials, consumer discretionary and industrials.

Michael Zezas: Finally, what are the biggest potential impediments and risks to India's success?

Ridham Desai: Of course, things could always go wrong. We would include a prolonged global recession or sluggish growth, adverse outcomes in geopolitics and/or domestic politics. India goes to the polls in 2024, so another election for the country to decide upon. Policy errors, shortages of skilled labor, I would note that as a key risk. And steep rises in energy and commodity prices in the interim as India tries to change its energy sources. So all these are risk factors that investors should pay attention to. That said, we think that the pieces are in place to make this India's decade.

Michael Zezas: Ridham, thanks for taking the time to talk.

Ridham Desai: Great speaking with you, Mike.

Michael Zezas: As a reminder, if you enjoy Thoughts on the Market, please take a moment to rate and review us on the Apple Podcast app. It helps more people find the show.

As India enters a new era of growth, investors will want to know what’s driving this growth and how it may create once-in-a-generation opportunities. Head of Global Thematic and Public Policy Research Michael Zezas and Chief India Equity Strategist Ridham Desai discuss.

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