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After India began to open up its economy in the early 1990s, Mr. Sheshabalaya turned to understanding and interpreting what was then a still-invisible “Indian advantage.” In the period 1997-2000, well before other analysts had set their sights upon this powerful and (to some) disruptive phenomenon on the world stage, Mr. Sheshabalaya authored a series of reports about India. Several of the latter were published in the US; given the accuracy of their long-term trend analysis, they continue to both provide interesting insights and make interesting reading. These studies spotted and focused upon opportunities ranging from IT and pharmaceuticals, consumer goods and auto-components to today’s hottest (new) topic - medical tourism. Alongside, Mr. Sheshabalaya quantified and explained India’s mysterious “middle-class,” identified India's paradigm-shaking competitive advantage in knowledge industries, and saw rural markets becoming the “real driver of (long-term Indian economic) growth”.

Ten years before the market value of India’s Infosys surpassed American giants EDS, Computer Sciences Corp., Unisys and Europe's IT leaders combined, Mr. Sheshabalaya explicitly predicted Indian software firms becoming “world leaders.” He backed this up with a pathbreaking 243-page study on Indian information technology published in New York in 1997, which not only forecast five-year exports and revenues within a margin of 5%, but also identified as many as five of the eight branded product companies listed in a recent Indian Institute of Management study as trailblazers to a $7 billion market by 2010. In September 1998, Mr. Sheshabalaya became the first to describe India as an emerging “IT superpower” and project parallels between its impact on global IT and that of Japan in automobiles.

In subsequent years, Mr. Sheshabalaya repeatedly punctured seriously flawed notions in major Western newspapers not only about India’s IT industry, but also vital aspects of its military and space programs, as well as its politics, society and economy. Among other things, he foresaw the post-year 2000 value chain climb of the Indian software industry, pointing out in the Financial Times that its success was more than a “lucky draw with the millennium”, and again in the same newspaper, that the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, would be no more than a temporary blip in its growth.

In 1999, Mr. Sheshabalaya played a key role in lobbying the European Parliament to insert three enabling amendments on high-tech cooperation within the EU-India Enhanced Partnership.

An especially striking example of Mr. Sheshabalaya’s understanding of India’s emergence was a 1995 address to Brussels-based Tijd Academie (click here); the equivalent of a Grand Tour – covering Indian politics, history and society, business and economics – it explains the unique combination of market-pull and industry/technology-push which have since reversed traditional views about comparative advantage and now underpin India’s emergence. The Tijd presentation was a near-prophesy of the acquisitive global pathways of Indian conglomerates such as the Tatas and Reliance, the success of what was then still an obscure gentleman called Lakshmi Mittal as well as Vedanta (the Indian metals firm which became the London Stock Exchange’s largest listing in 2003); all these players were explicitly mentioned in his speech.
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