The Indian government is belatedly waking up to the fact it needs to build new cities and industrial hubs in order to sustain the growth that is supposed to propel the country to super economy status in the 21st century.
But it might be a case of too much, too late as India sets out to build 24 new, industrial cities along a planned dedicated freight corridor from the political capital, New Delhi, to the financial capital, Mumbai priced at a cool $90 billion. Costs aside, it’s a big ask in a country known for its mulish bureaucracy and maddening red-tape, its violent protests over land, and endemic corruption. Even building a bridge (like the Mumbai Sea Link) or highways (like the Golden Quadrilateral) in India can be a struggle.
DHOLERA, India, Oct 26 (Reuters) – Chotubhai Raghani’s
fields in a dry, salty strip of Indian coastline on the Arabian
Sea never yielded much wheat but he feels like a lucky man now
he’s started selling them at a juicy markup.
He expects his land may one day make way for a car factory
or an air-conditioned shopping mall, all part of what may be
India’s most ambitious infrastructure project ever.
SITAPUR, India, Sept 16 (Reuters) – Carrying two worn bags
full of toothbrushes and toothpaste,
Raj Verma rides his battered bicycle around villages in India’s
northern state of Uttar Pradesh, leaving fresh supplies of
Colgate products at the small shops he visits.
For centuries, Indians cleaned their teeth with a piece of
bark from the Neem tree, known for its antiseptic properties.
While most urban Indians have long used toothpaste, many of the
700 million rural Indians still brush with a Neem twig or their
fingers. While that represents an obvious opportunity for
toothpaste brands, the marketing and distribution methods to
reach those remote customers are not so clear.
Technology, not protest marches, might be the biggest eradicator of corruption in India where under-the-table bribes thrive in the world of face-to-face transactions. Many facets of India’s government still operate in Dickensian offices where floor-to-ceiling stacks of paper files can provide good cover and easy excuses for “delays” that only a sweetener of a few hundred rupees can cut through.
A quiet revolution is brewing in India’s food industry. Average middle-class Indians are regularly eating things some had heard of but many had never consumed over ten years ago: pizza, pasta, cinnamon rolls and nachos (never mind cranberry juice, cappuccinos, margaritas and mohitos mojitos). But foreign food is only half the story.
To an outsider, Indian food is one of the most distinct cuisines on earth. Yet anyone living in India knows what a misnomer the phrase is. It’s like using “European food” to describe both Italian and French cuisines, because India is a land of over a dozen definitive cultures and cuisines.
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Hundreds of millions of Indians living in the country’s overcrowded cities must get used to paying more for better public services as the government pushes a huge infrastructure privatisation programme, urban development minister Kamal Nath said.
The Indian economy is one of the fastest growing in the world, but city councils are struggling to pay for the rocketing demands for electricity, clean water and good roads in some of the most populous cities and biggest slums on the globe.
GREATER NOIDA, India (Reuters) – India’s rise as an emerging market star with seemingly insatiable demand means firms such as South Korea’s LG Electronics are doing a booming business, but the country must rev up its manufacturing sector further or risk an unmanageable trade gap and a slowdown in its blistering growth.
The sector has started to catch up with India’s world-famous IT and services industry to sate demand for anything from cars to air-conditioners to flat-screen TVs in the homes of hundreds of millions of newly affluent Indians who are ready to splurge.
With the Gates-Buffett give-it-away tour just in India, many have been questioning if the country’s rich are up to such philanthropy. Gross exaggerations of wealth and poverty are on display every day in India – the BMW next to the bullock cart or the coiffured Jimmy Choo-wearing woman waiting for her driver as the shoeless human mule shuffles past with two oil drums on his back. With millions malnourished and uneducated, with ancient monuments crumbling, with indigenous art, theatre and music unsupported and fading, why can’t the uber rich give to the country that helped them so?
India is a country with a long tradition of charity, whether Samadhi (the last stage of life when, after having sought prosperity, one gives away all possessions as a step to enlightenment) or giving alms and tithe (giving ten percent of your income away to the poor). There is also a strong culture of giving to one’s immediate family and supporting the families of domestic help. It would be unfair to say that many of the rich in India don’t donate to countless charities and religious institutions. They do and without the generous tax incentives offered in many other countries.
India has the world’s fourth largest coal reserves, but trying to access them is like trying to get beer out of a dry town in the midst of a swinging party.
India needs coal. Whether you like the environmentally polluting stuff or not, half of its population doesn’t have electricity. That’s 500 million people who have to cook dinner on open fires, wash clothes by hand and get their entertainment crowded around shared TVs. And if India wants to progress and build homes and factories to improve everyone’s life – it needs more electricity and coal is the cheapest and easiest energy source around.
In a contest between who is the most celebrated Indian billionaire, a man who donates $2 bln to education versus a man who builds himself a $1bln home, the winner is obvious. Right?
The founder and chairman of infotech giant Wipro Ltd., Azim Premji, is India’s third richest man, said to be worth $17 bln. In one gesture, he has given away more than ten percent of his wealth to a fund for rural education. Surely such a generous donation is most noble and worthy?