Niels B Christiansen
President & CEO, Danfoss
Past Experience: McKinsey & Co; Hilti Corp
Interests: Hunting, spending time with kids
Q. Danfoss specialises in areas where India lags behind. Could there be an opportunity here?
The infrastructure demand that rapid urbanisation is causing requires more roads and buildings—industrial, commercial and residential—to be built. That plays very well into what we do. The other big need is the cold chain—food safety, food preservation and reducing food loss. In India, about 40 percent of the fruits and vegetables produced are lost. This is because only 10 percent of it goes into a cold chain compared to 90 percent [of it] in developed countries.
Then, of course, there is the government plan to build 65 smart cities which, if planned efficiently, can consume a lot less electricity. India needs to automate its agriculture sector to improve yield. In agriculture, automation comes with hydraulics, and we are the leading player in producing hydraulics components. India produces a lot of mechanical tractors and there is enough knowledge to make them hydraulics-influenced and, consequently, very productive. Our Rs 500 crore investment in a new facility near Chennai could not have come at a better time.
Q. What should the government do to draw investment into these critical areas?
First thing is to get the priorities right. No government can do everything at the same time. The infrastructure is critical. There is a need to plan the smart cities properly—that reduces wastage and cost. This will involve drawing up proper building legislation and setting the right standards. With cold chains, too, it is time for guidelines, standards and legislations on how they will be built, the right incentives to be offered in the Indian context and [finding people] who will finance them. The government should do its part by legislating, and investment will start flowing.
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(This story appears in the 12 December, 2014 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)