Here also, we see a sharp surge from about 2003 to 2011, and difficulties in the later period, with a decline of about Rs 27 lakh crore. If the ‘national champions’ model was working well, it should have counteracted the decline on a significant scale.
When we look at the magnitudes involved, we can readily understand why that did not happen. The Adani Group has grown very well. A recent article by Mahesh Vyas adds up all Adani projects—whether infrastructure or not and whether ‘under implementation’ or not—and finds they add up to Rs 7.2 lakh crore. For the present reasoning, we will assume that all these projects will rapidly make it to ‘under implementation.’ Thus, we may estimate that one big, successful organisation like the Adani Group is able to run a project pipeline of about Rs 7 lakh crore. In this case, to get to a value for India like Rs 40 lakh crore (that was prevalent in 2011), we would need six national champions who build on the scale of Adani. To get to one doubling from 2011–2023, we’d need 12 such national champions.
Many private individuals have watched the meteoric rise of national champions, with very high growth rates, and concluded that this is the solution to the investment problem. As the evidence above shows, there is a problem with the magnitudes involved. What is remarkable growth for the Adani Group is not enough to generate growth for India.
And from this vantage point, let’s think about the energy transition. The ballpark estimate that we should keep in mind is that to eliminate fossil fuels, we will need about 1,000 GW of renewable energy capacity. Using a thumb rule of Rs 5 crore per MW of capital expenditure, this is a total cost of about Rs 50 lakh crore. It is hard to get this done by a few national champions.
When we look into our history, investment in the 2003–2011 period was not achieved through national champions. It was achieved through a broad-based passion for investment in the hands of myriad businessmen. While Rs 50 lakh crore is a lot of money for a few national champions, it is not hard to obtain this from 1,000 firms where each one puts in Rs 50,000 crore.