Confident of the Indian stock market becoming one of the "really large powerhouses" of the world, top bourse NSE's chief Chitra Ramkrishna says that time has come to unleash a new set of changes by the government, regulators and exchanges to realise this potential.
"This will not only help India meet lofty goals of being among the top markets globally, but also make it competitive and attractive for large sovereign wealth funds and large long-term funds from abroad for capital inflows," Ramkrishna, MD and CEO of National Stock Exchange (NSE), told PTI.
NSE, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is the country's largest stock exchange and this position was attained by it after just one year of commencing operations.
"We have the potential and it is time to get our acts together to be among the real big powerhouses in this business.
"These things do not happen just by intent, but also require lots of conscious actions that we take, be it policy decisions, legislation, creating institutions, etc. We need to go about it in a very planned and systematic fashion," said Ramkrishna, who figures on the Fortune list of the 50 most powerful business women in the world.
She has been part of NSE every since its inception in 1993 and took over as MD and CEO earlier this year after serving in various other leadership positions.
Asked about NSE's 20-year journey, Ramkrishna said: "In the last two decades, a major part of the journey of NSE has to do with the journey of Indian economic reforms."
"We had the benefit of participating in this process and as a new institution we were also able to be a catalyst. So new products, new processes and a lot many new things became possible because we were a new entity and we were created with a new policy architecture.
"But none of these would have borne fruit, had we not been part of an economic reform process. In summary, we can say NSE has been an instrument as well as beneficiary of the last two decades of larger economic reforms," she said.
Talking about the path ahead for NSE and the overall Indian capital markets space, the NSE chief said: "We can definitely say today that India is one of best markets in the world and the transformation that has taken place from the time it was in 90s has been possible because of right policy actions taken by regulators, government and th exchanges.
"But challenges before us are different today. We have definitely managed to come among the top few markets of the world.
"But, to stay ahead and to be one of the really large powerhouses of the world, that requires a new set of actions that we should be initiating and that means we must be ready to rethink our different pillars and we must be ready to unleash a new set of changes," Ramkrishna said.
"That is how we can be relevant, competitive and go ahead of others. We just can not do that with just the existing pillars. We have to completely re-architect ourselves and then I am sure we will be able to achieve those kind of lofty goals because there is nothing that is not achievable."
She said that it is very easy to understand why markets like Singapore or Hong Kong are more attractive than India and these gaps can be addressed as well.
"In fact not only address those gaps, we can as well go ahead of those markets. These should be the work to be done in coming years," she added.
About domestic equity culture, Ramkrishna said that there are hardly about 1.5 crore domestic investors in the country and it was not the case that these many people are trading in the markets every day.
"There are people who might have invested at any point of their life. I am not even saying that all of them should come directly to the market, but savings form a very small proportion of the equity capital in this country.
"Unless we are able to create an environment where more savings come into the market, we can not create capital for growth. We need to think what do we need to do get retirement money to the market.
"That could be the big game changer for our markets. We have to continuously benchmark ourselves with the international markets. Money will flow to anywhere that it finds attractive and therefore we need to remain attractive to attract the funds.
"That is something many other countries are trying to do and we need to do the same -- that is tightening our belts and be attractive and competitive for sovereign wealth funds, large long-term funds from abroad," she said.