PRATAP PADODE, Managing Director, ASAPP Media Information Group, speaks about India´s journey over the past 13 years and the current scenario. ¨This is a momentous day because we have gathered the stalwarts in the industry to celebrate. We have been stating through our magazines that while we have a visionary leader at the helm, we are yet to see the action on the ground. And that´s the common refrain these days.
The last 13 years of these awards mirror the evolution of this industry. The first impact of the biggest infrastructure project was taken by the government then - the Golden Quadrilateral project. The year 2002-03 was a change in the orbit in many ways. And the kind of growth we saw from 2003 to 2007 was a glorious time. I used to analyse the stock markets and wonder when we are going to see the run - the kind Dow Jones has given to Wall Street. And that was the kind of run the economy had here - it doubled over five years, from 500 billion to 1 trillion; now we are close to 2 trillion. So we have set benchmarks and the growth we are expecting now is different. India is being rebuilt. Never has the government been under so much scrutiny. Government initiatives are in the spotlight and the demand for reforms has grown exponentially. Infrastructure spending, which had gone into a coma, has seen some revival. Earlier, from spending 3-4 per cent of GDP on infrastructure - which may have been okay - to 6 per cent, which is not going to be okay. The kind of people we need to provide employment opportunities to, the kind of entrepreneurs and enterprise moving into the system, and the demographic dividend we talk about...we need to do much more. And unless 10 per cent of our GDP is spent for a few years, we will not come close to a double-digit GDP growth. Although the prime minister has enhanced public spending in infrastructure, we are observing a conclusive impact only in the roads sector. The ports, followed by rail, are likely to see positive activity too. Public spending would have to be the engine of growth, as the private sector is keeping away.
Our previous prime minister´s US$ 1 trillion plan was dependent on 50 per cent of private investment, provided the environment was conducive. But we died down in the ranking of ease of doing business. We also gained notoriety in tax reforms. Now, our current prime minister has travelled extensively and turned the mood in India´s favour. The latest Ernst & Young report, as per a survey conducted among international investors, says that India is among the top three choices by 60 per cent of respondents; 37 per cent are convinced India would be among the top three countries by 2020 and 70 per cent of respondents already had business operations in India. The schemes launched by the prime minister - Make in India, Digital India, Smart Cities - have also got 70 per cent of the respondents excited. Currently, the number of projects getting launched is suboptimal. In boom time, we have seen 1,500 projects, as against today´s 400-500, being launched every quarter. We should move this level of launch for the private sector to release its private capital. At the beginning of this century, our software industry began growing exponentially after the Y2K threat. Fifteen years later, we are being touted among the top three destinations for FDI. But the baggage that would destroy this is our collective trust deficit. We are seeing moves happening; the government is headed in the right direction. India´s prime objective is to grow and provide opportunities for all. We need a consensus among parties on the development agenda. With large requirements, we need more entrepreneurs to create jobs; we need training and skilling for labour. The future of our citizens is not negotiable.¨