W Power 2024

Forbes India Leadership Awards 2024: Honouring those leading from the front

Forbes India Leadership Awards take cognisance of an evolving business, economic, and technological landscape. Now in its 13th edition, FILA is recognising excellence in industry and beyond

Brian Carvalho
Published: Mar 7, 2024 04:00:54 PM IST
Updated: Mar 7, 2024 04:01:55 PM IST

This issue scales the annual summit that encapsulates all Forbes India stands for: Leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship and wealth (creation and giving). It’s on these four firm pillars that the Forbes India Leadership Awards (FILA) are founded.

Now in its 13th edition, FILA, as always, has award categories that are at its core: Entrepreneur of the Year, CEO of the Year and GenNext Entrepreneur, to name three. Along the way, we’ve tweaked categories to reflect a rapidly-changing environment. So, in the past if we had Unique Unicorns, this year we’ve considered value-creation rather than just valuation. Enter the Startup Value Creator Award.

The Awards take cognisance of an evolving business, economic and technological landscape. Over the recent past, we’ve added categories like Regional Goliath, to capture burgeoning local brands that are giving national rivals a run for their cash flows; and Emerging Climate Warrior and Emerging Innovator, to highlight ground-breaking tech-enabled developments that improve lives and livelihoods.

This year, we’ve added two new big-bang awards that, if I may say so, place FILA in a unique space. The first is Institution Builder.

The economic reforms of the early 1990s threw up a host of opportunities for entrepreneurs willing to take measured risks—as long as there were returns for the taking. Many of these early adventurers have gone on to build enterprises in diverse sectors—from information technology services and manufacturing to banking and financial services. A few of these enterprises are veritable institutions that were incubated decades ago by a few good men and women.

The Institution Builder winner—chosen by a high-powered nine-member jury chaired by Marico founder Harsh Mariwala—is an individual who saw opportunity when few did in the pre-liberalisation era. The reforms of the ’90s gave rise to prospects that, over the subsequent years and decades, provided fuel for the individual to implement his vision: To build a robust institution across the entire financial services spectrum. For more on the winner and his spirit of enterprise and institution-building, don’t miss Salil Panchal’s ‘Beyond The Bank’.

The other distinctive award category we’ve introduced is Ecosystem Enabler. The ecosystem here is deeptech, one that often gets lost in the noise and hoopla of tech-enabled businesses like ecommerce and fintech. The winner—to call him that is perhaps underwhelming and inadequate—in this category is a 70-year-old Padma Shri awardee who is an IIT-Kanpur graduate with a PhD from America’s University of Maine, known for its pathbreaking research.

He is considered a pioneer in nurturing industry-academia interaction in research, innovation and product development, and has accumulated accolades in areas that mirror the evolution of Indian technology: From wireless telephony and mobile banking to solar equipment and battery swapping for electric vehicles. And, as Tech & Innovation Editor Harichandan Arakali writes, “His most enduring legacy is the IITM Research Park that he conceived and helped establish, and where he continues to scout for the next big deeptech startup”. For more on this titan of technology, Arakali’s ‘The Deep Tech Doyen’ is a must read.

I may have refrained from naming the award winners, but business and tech trackers won’t have to cudgel their brains to figure who they are. On the cover, though, is the Forbes India Entrepreneur of the Year, Sunil Vachani, founder of what is today’s India’s largest electronics manufacturing services company. It won’t end there. As Vachani tells Naini Thaker, he wants to now make Dixon Technologies a global engineering powerhouse. For more on that ambition, go to ‘His Maker’s Voice’.

Brian Carvalho
Editor, Forbes India
Email: Brian.Carvalho@nw18.com
Twitter ID: @Brianc_Ed