One man’s traffic jam, is another’s opportunity. That is exactly what I take away from Business Week’s latest cover package on India that focuses on the infrastructure problems with the country that is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Ports, roads, buildings – […]

One man’s traffic jam, is another’s opportunity. That is exactly what I take away from Business Week’s latest cover package on India that focuses on the infrastructure problems with the country that is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Ports, roads, buildings – the infrastructure just can’t keep up with the pace of growth. Business Week is right: the whole thing is creaky and needs a makeover, quickly.

New Delhi MetroIts not like they are not trying: Business Week writes about New Delhi Metro, which miraculously finished ahead of time. I can personally attest that it is one fine piece of mass transit system, and is viewed with pride by Delhi locals. (Read: My Personal Perspectives on an emergent India.)

The last time I visited India, it reminded me of 1950s in the US (as seen on old news reels) with consumerism and rapid growth just getting under way. Three years later, many similar macro-trends are unfolding – organized retail for example. Technology, may have gotten India the kick-start, but it is retail, financial services and manufacturing that will keep the Indian economy rolling and create jobs for the non-tech locals. (Sramana Mitra’s thoughts on where VCs should invest in India.)

The Weekly harps on manufacturing, though I believe the infrastructure and other issues are linked to the agricultural sector – by far the most important segment of Indian economy. As big box retailers try and set-up shop, one can expect that new “food” supply chains will be set-up to feed the middle classes that live in the cities, there by pushing the economic gains into the hinterland – perhaps will bring some kind of economic relief to the poor farmers. Many are being forced to sell their lands and move to the cities in search of a livelihood, putting more stress on an over stressed urban infrastructure.

Atanu Dey and Vinod Khosla have their own version of a Marshall Plan, that could alleviate some of the human issues that come with a growing economy.

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  1. It is interesting you mentioned about the “food supply” chain in India – Reliance is heavily investing in capturing the market: http://www.businessworld.in/Nov1306/indepth01.asp

    Also Walmart is making headway in to India so it would be interesting to watch how the global leader and the local indigenious leader compete to get into this bizness

  2. Amit Chowdhry Sunday, March 11, 2007

    The article also mentioned that there is a new airport in the works in Bangalore. That is great news! I was in Mysore/Bangalore this past July-December and their airport looked like it needed a lot of touching up.

    The current Bangalore airport does not do justice to the amount of business traveling through.

  3. Christian,

    I think Reliance, Bharti-Walmart can have a profound impact on the whole country. Since I don’t have any data to back it up with, I posted it on my personal blog, just so you know it is one-man’s opinion.

  4. Talking about infrastructure in India, I think what we lack is a comprehensive, integrated and well planned road map for Infrastructure development. By this I mean, development happen in small pockets. For instance Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Kolkata. Unless we develop all parts (towns, suburbs and even villages ) in all states, we cannot progress. A classic example of previous failure is Golden Quadrilateral project. That took of well and progressed until the change of governments. Now I don’t even know whats latest with that project.

  5. AllSaidAndDone Sunday, March 11, 2007



  6. Peter Thomas Sunday, March 11, 2007

    Just a thought, Bangalore for e.g. appears to be poised for a bandwidth explosion, there is a lot of fiber laid and I hear of city-wide wi-fi coming very soon.

    IMHO working from home may be the solution. Lots of companies are doing this already.

  7. I remember you said that you were going to post up your report about latest web companies in India the day or two after you got back. It seems that never got posted? or did I miss it?

  8. It’s interesting to watch Indians watching India imerging on the world stage-especially those now geographically distant from the motherland. We sit and comment about posibilities and speculate as to who the players will be. The truth about India lies with us Indians and our actions or lack there of.

    From the outside looking in, we remain spectators and exhibit all the characteristics that have thus far left India trailing the leading nations (be it economic or political). Om makes a poignant observation in likening the current India to the US of the 50s. It is the spirit of the 50s that is very much being captured in today’s India. The exuberance, the “can do” attitude that is so traditionally and historically not Indian.

    Perhaps those of us that left India some years back will be infected with this new spirit and contribute our talents and energies to the emergance.

  9. One of the most fantastic things that was started in Karnataka (e-Government initiative) and has seen tremendous success needs to be emphasized much in Media.


    As much as infrastructure can help move people and goods from one place to the other. Bangalore One initiative is the other – get the services closer to the people. Point and click from your PC and home or work or walk up to one of the nearby centers.

    Such service centers are “ripe” to be modeled elsewhere in the country as well as other developing nations.

  10. The fact that the New Delhi metro is always held up as the paragon of a project done right is a problem (the Economist also did a story on this). First, the fact that the Indian government can’t point to anything else is not a great vote of confidence in their own infrastructure investments. Second, the project shouldn’t be considered such a success, because it required individual heroics, and an exceptional individual to get it done. I would like to see a success story in which the process was the focus, not the individual effort.

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