Thomas Friedman recalls visiting Bangalore – India’s Silicon Valley” – when he suddenly realized that the world was flat. And with that eureka moment, his bestselling book The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century was born. His book traces how dramatic advancements in information, networking and communications technologies have reverberated worldwide. It describes how business innovation spans organizations and transcends borders. Overall, it paints a vibrant picture of the exciting possibilities opening up in new markets, especially those in Asia.

India is one of these most important opportunities. Despite the global economic crisis, the economy in India grew 5.4 percent in 2009, according to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF). It is now the world’s second most populous nation, and within 30 years India will have more people than any other country on earth. Its middle class, which currently numbers 300 million, will grow to about 40 per cent of the population in just two decades, making India the world’s fifth largest consumer economy.

More than one million Canadians can trace their family origin to India, yet Canada’s trade with India is just $4.6 billion, well below its potential. To be sure, it is always difficult to break into a new market – especially one so far away. But Canadian companies are succeeding in China (Canada’s trade with China is about 10 times larger than its trade with India). Equally important, the incentives are very compelling, as I discovered when I visited India in October last year.

I met with the CEOs of Birla Sunlife and, with senior executives at Indian giants such as Airtel and Infosys, and at several multinationals, including Microsoft, GE, HSBC and Citigroup. These are modern companies with very aggressive growth plans. Talent development is key to their success. Our discussions often revolved around India’s need for high quality managers to sustain its emergence as one of the world’s major economies.

They are also keen to partner with business interests from other countries. And it became very clear to me that if Canadian companies do not step up, they will find talent and partners from other countries to execute their aggressive growth plans.

Emerging markets, and notably India, have a voracious appetite for business knowledge. Their workforces are keen, nimble and bright. They need young managers and many organizations could benefit from more business knowledge to take their companies to the next level.

The federal government’s recent trade missions to India and China will help to strengthen Canada’s position in Asia. It also helps that Canada is becoming increasingly diverse with waves of new immigrants. Now we need to properly harness their knowledge of foreign markets, consumers and businesses to ensure that Canadian companies can leverage it to expand abroad.

Each year, about 12 per cent of the students who graduate from Ivey’s MBA program have an Indian background. Some of them choose to stay in Canada, while others head home to take advantage of a market that promises unparalleled opportunity. As such, Canadian companies take advantage of their expertise by hiring them when they graduate or by participating in client projects while they are in school.

To further improve the business world’s understanding of high-growth companies in emerging markets, Ivey is partnering with the Indian School of Business (ISB) to set up a Centre for Case Development. ISB is a world-class business school in India with partnerships with Wharton, Kellogg and London Business School. It is a well-recognized leader in preparing executives who can respond well to a rapidly changing global marketplace.

As Charles Dhanaraj, Adjunct Professor at Ivey believes:”There is great need for India-based cases. It is important not only for Indian students to better understand business in their country, but also important for students of management education around the world to better understand doing business in this important region.”

Ivey’s new partnership with the Indian School of Business follows on Ivey’s long success in China. As the second largest producer of cases in the world, Ivey is the top producer of China-based cases, including several hundred available in Chinese. Through workshops on case-teaching and case-writing, conducted in partnership with several Chinese universities, Ivey has contributed significantly to advancing case-based business education in China.

Our partnership with ISB will foster similar initiatives in India. Ivey faculty members have already led three case-writing and case-teaching workshops in India. We hope our partnership with ISB will have a profound effect on teaching business in India and on our learning about the country.

Of course, India’s already astonishing and continuing growth has also created several major business challenges in India. For example, India must integrate with the global economy while it encourages and achieves growth at home. It needs to rapidly expand its infrastructure. It faces the difficulty of finding and retaining a talented workforce when jobs are so plentiful.

Ivey can help Indian companies and business leaders meet some of those critical business challenges. We are keen to share our deep expertise in talent development and retention. Ivey’s Executive Development programs are taught at many firms, including leading companies in China. Their experiences are ones we can share in India.

The forces of technological innovation and globalization are indeed reshaping trade and business relationships in our increasingly “flat” world. Canada can capture more of these opportunities by reaching out more aggressively to emerging markets, by sharing our knowledge and experience, and by entering into new partnerships. By advancing business education and insight about India and in India, Ivey is paving the road forward for Canadian companies and Canadian business leaders.