Hospitality industry must drive ‘Brand India’, lead the way: Rakesh Sarna

Rakesh Sarna, Managing Director and CEO, Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris recommends a pro-active role, as a responsible society and as an industry in contributing to building a formidable Brand India. First by addressing the basics of focussing on our people and skill development, and of valuing their role in Brand India. And lastly, of playing an active role in keeping India clean. In presenting the nation in the best light, in the best manner possible.


“I am here today to take your time, to ask myself some questions – and the fundamental question is: Are we Brand India? I hear a lot of angst about how do we become a great country? I can’t help but feel maybe it is time I ask myself what am I doing for this? Do I own Brand India? Am I Brand India?

What is Brand India? It is commonly seen as a campaign to promote India as an emerging market and destination for visitors and investors. My humble question is: Are we mere spectators or are we going to be active participants to build Brand India? It has so many dimensions. Brand India is about making India a country that can hold its head high on a global stage, it is about cleaning up our country and not waiting for the government to do it for us. We are living Brand India? Do we take Brand India seriously each day? Are we raising the self-esteem of our countrymen and of our demographic dividend? They are not literate. They don’t have a skill. When you don’t have a skill and you are not literate you cannot have a healthy self-esteem. 

So, what are we going to do to make Brand India proud? Are we going to get involved? And raise their self-esteem; give them a skill? As an industry that is so keen to provide sincere care to our guests, are we also going to sincerely care about the people who are meant to provide this sincere care? And accept them as who they are. But if we don’t have the demographic dividend literate, with a healthy self-esteem, then this culture of servility will not go away and this is a cancer to our future prosperity.

We can afford the best of marble and crystals and imported foods and goods and the best chefs, but the one critical ingredient in this society and in this industry, in making a wholesome Brand India, is first looking after our own people. People are our true Brand guardians of the hotel industry of India.

People across the globe speak of India as so exotic, the food, the culture, the diversity and the heritage but they always finish off that it’s so dirty. This breaks my heart. Is this Brand India? Can we let this be Brand India? Or are we going to say that we will make Brand India, because we own it, because we are Brand India.

If we all get together and take a pledge to clean our country, to give our people a skill and raise their self-esteem, this will define the future of Brand India. This will make Brand India. Let’s work on making Brand India powerful.

780 aircrafts are on order to be delivered in the next 36 months. Small problem is that we don’t have enough runways, but we will come to it. We can do it. We can have so much potential for intra-India travel. The purchasing power of Indians is increasing every day. This doesn’t mean we don’t value the foreign guests but let’s not just bank on that. Let’s get the basics right. And those basics are our people and our environment. Just keep the environment clean, as basic as that.

Today, India stands on the cusp of transformational change to good fortunes, but please don’t take Brand India lightly. We as a collective body, we have a responsibility to our future generations to set the right example. We owe it to Mother India to present it in its best grace and beauty. No one can do it but us. 

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