Growing pains for India Inc

13 Comments

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.

13 Comments

Maria Sanches

VlnCTb First there is the need to find the real meaning life has for you. This journey we are all on is a varied one, for sure, but there are some similar things we are all going through.

Each of us, in our search for meaning in life, has a vast amount of experience to draw upon. Our struggles and hardship, along with our achievements and blessings, teach us life’s lessons. Your experience, your strength and the hope that endures are part of your unique story — and part of the reason why you should tell your life story.

The second primary reason to tell your life story is to leave your mark. We all want to be remembered. Certainly we want to be remembered for the good we’ve done and for the significant accomplishments in our lives. There is satisfaction in a life well-lived. Living a life fully… richly experiencing what it means to be alive and involved in helping others is a great thing. To share with others who you are, what you are about and what you believe in is passing on some very valuable personal history.

Partha Sarathy

Dr VS Rao Director of BITS Pilani Hyderabad campus may think that Chandrababu Naidu was wrong in considering Economics as more important than politics. Who told Economics is urban and politics is for rural? Bihar gave importance to politics instead of economics and see the state of affairs there. Bhagavat Gita says that you cannot do good somewhere without doing bad somewhere else and vice versa. Naidu did not mean to do bad for rural and intended to do good for urban. In West Bengal Left Front used to give importance to Rural and win all votes there but used to loose seats in Kolkata city. Naidu’s Urban development with subsequent rural benefits was indeed wise thinking. Success is not to be measured by CM designations, elections fought and seats won but by the enormous obstacles which were overcome and there is no doubt that with Economic Focus Chandrababu Naidu is indeed a success which pigeon headed fellows have failed to appreciate.

AllSaidAndDone

Can any of the expat Indians here claim that corruption in their ex motherland (now that many of them have of course become American Citizens) is less than what it was 5 years ago? I can bet that level of corruption has only increased from year to year.. quality of life for the vast majority of NON-IT professionals have only gone down year after year. I dont think anyone can deny either of this points if they are honest. Unless you recognize the disease how are you going to treat it? Om mentioned about USA in the 50’s but I can bet that the level of law enforcement in the 50’s USA was many times better than what it is in the 21st Century India. In India – it is no secret that the the shield of law is almost in all cases – only for the people who are rich or connected.

Rahul

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.

anonymous

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.

https://www.bangaloreone.gov.in/

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.

laddie

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.

Lingy

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?

Peter Thomas

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.

AllSaidAndDone

CORRUPTION…

AS MUCH SURE AS IT IS THAT INDIA WILL SURELY DEVELOP IT IS ALSO ALMOST GURANTEED THAT HER CORRUPT POLITICIANS AND BUREAUCRATS WILL DRAG HER DOWN

Pankaj

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.

Om Malik

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.

Amit Chowdhry

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.

Chintan

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

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