As Malaysia-based low-cost carrier AirAsia gets set for takeoff in India, CEO Tony Fernandes says there couldn't have been a better time to launch a new business in the country.
"There's a wave of optimism tied to the new government. If there's ever great timing to start a new business in India I think we picked it," Fernandes told CNBC on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Manila. "People are confident and feel this is a new beginning – that's 50 percent of the battle."
"A government that wants to listen and hear the views to make business easier, is always a good thing," Fernandes added. AirAsia has tied up with India's Tata Group to launch AirAsia India – the first India-based airline with foreign investment– in the next few months.
The Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government's thumping election victory has driven a palpable turnaround in economic sentiment among business leaders both in and outside India.
The BJP is seen as pro-business and reform-minded – a welcome change from the ousted Congress-led government that presided over the worst economic slowdown since the 1980s. Asia's third-largest economy grew 4.7 percent in the final quarter of 2013, down from its near-9 percent expansion in fiscal year 2011.
Jaspal Bindra, chief executive, Asia of Standard Chartered, a U.K. bank that has a strong presence in India, says the new leadership is "fantastic" for the bank's operations.
"It's going to be hugely positive from a business and economic point of view. Compared with where India has been in terms of reforms in the last few years, this is going to be a leap frog up," he said.
Translating optimism to investment
After years of sluggish investment – a key factor behind the continued growth slowdown – increased optimism is precisely what India's economy needs.
Corporate executives say it won't be long before private-sector investment ramps up.