The ´ease of doing business´ rankings released by the World Bank have indicated a minuscule improvement for India to a rank of 130 owing primarily to better points in ´starting a business´ and ´getting an electricity connection´. However, there has been no change in our abysmal ranking as far as ´obtaining construction permits´, ´enforcing contracts´ and ´registering property´, highlighting the morass real-estate entrepreneurs have to navigate to survive.
If one has to secure over 55 permits over a two-year period before starting a simple building project, how long will it take to realise the dream of smart cities? The multiplicity of authorised departments working in silos has made it difficult even for a chief minister to ensure the creation of single-window clearance. Year after year, CW´s awardees have bemoaned the apathy of the administration in this regard. Take for instance, the recent suicide note of a builder - it indicated that while he was not in a debt trap, running a reasonably successful operation off Mumbai, the trying demands of the administrative powers drove him to death.
Today, states seeking investments are wooing companies from overseas and corporate giants from other states to set up their factories. Telangana is wooing Foxconn and Microsoft while Andhra Pradesh is touring Silicon Valley to attract investment to Amaravati, its new capital, while the Singapore and Japanese governments fund its master plan. The Maharashtra chief minister has sought funding from Japan and Tamil Nadu recently held a Global Investor Summit, to be followed by Rajasthan. Then, why on earth would you neglect your state´s regular investors: its entrepreneurs? It could possibly be because one assumes they have no choice - this, however, is not true as so many of them have set up businesses in other states and overseas. The other reason is that big brand names make the job easier - but then, we have situations like POSCO that have been hanging fire around Odisha forever. The idea of smart cities is a compelling one owing to urban migration and the ultimate input-output ratio of a city. But when we arrive at the stage of issuing tenders for EPC works to be carried out for trunk infrastructure and housing, we will need IT-enabled, one-window clearance and a transparent application process. EPC of smart cities will serve as a huge multiplier across all realty markets in India. Even the 500 larger towns and districts would benefit immensely, leading to inclusive economic impact. However, it will be possible only with smart clearance administration and procurement processing.
The 13th CW Annual Awards were a celebration of entrepreneurship that defied all odds. Our winners from across India under the ´Top Challengers´ segment beat the slowdown by miles. Their growth proves that there is possibility of success despite gloom all around. These companies are an inspiration to others. Our ´Top Challengers´ tracker for last year indicates that these companies often fare well at the stock markets too with their ability to create wealth for investors. Finally, our winners in the ´Fastest Growing´ category continue to highlight that there is no moment of ´zero growth´ in India. Each of these winners have cracked the code of growth by outshining others over a period of six financial years, indicating their tenacity in keeping the growth mantra resonant. Here´s wishing you season´s greetings and a prosperous new year ahead!
We will be at EXCON in Bengaluru on November 25-29, at Stall No. 582 in Hall 3 Lower Level. As many of our editorial members will be present, do stop by and say hello!