An admirable quality about India is that, no matter what setbacks plague us, we can re-build our nation. Historically, we have survived invasions and colonisations, even the economic draining-out of our resources, to build a multicultural secular prospering nation which is, today, a leading example of emerging markets on the global economic map.Our tenacity as a nation is never to be doubted. It is fuelled by our optimism for a better and brighter future.
Therefore, and in spite of a somewhat gloomy economic performance and political governance in the past year, there is a wave of optimism that is guiding us in 2014. The forthcoming LokSabhaelections are expected to reflect this optimism of the people, promising a change in government as well as in economic policies to usher in a business-friendly environment for Indian entrepreneurs and companies, MNCs and foreign investors.
The new Governor of Reserve Bank of India has already given us a shot in the arm by controlling the rising rupee exchange rate which is a deciding factor in balancing imports and exports, and is working with other policymakers to bring in reforms for sustainable growth rather than a sudden risky upward swing in GDP growth. An OECD forecast suggests a modest 5.9% growth in India’s GDP for 2014 (which had fallen below 5% last year).
Agriculture, which contributes over 15% to India’s GDP and represents almost half of India’s working population, has benefited from last year’s monsoons. Farmers are expected to receive better rates for their produce and earn a higher income this year. The government is supporting them with modern agricultural practices and technologies, and reviewing credits and subsidies to improve their lives.In turn, demand for goods and servicesare expected to rise in rural India. Investments in building a more-robust infrastructure for marketing and distribution of agricultural produce will make an enormous difference to the economy.
The industrial sector, which has been suffering in the last few years due to a slowdown in investments and delays in clearances of projects, is likely to recover soon. The Cabinet Committee on Investments (CCI), set up by the government to resolve this specific problem, has acted speedily and, according to an IBEF report, “has approved the speedy execution of 36 infrastructure projects entailing investments of Rs 1,830 billion (US$ 29.28 billion) to boost investor confidence, according to Mr P Chidambaram, Union Minister for Finance, Government of India.”
In a Times of India article published 3 January 2014, Chandrajit Banerjee,Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry, writes, “The Project Monitoring Group (PMG) set up in June 2013, to anchor CCI, has resolved over 120 projects worth over Rs. 4,00,000 crore (around $67 billion). Of these, approximately 67% are in the Power Sector.” The Power Sector garnering so much attention from the government – no doubt, in response to demands from the industry and Indian consumers – is, indeed, good news for the whole country.
The FMCG sector is coming out of asluggishgrowth from last year, with consumer demand from both urban and rural consumers suggesting a quick recovery.India’s growing consumerism has a role to play here as companies like Nestle, Colgate Palmolive and Amway invest in new plants and machinery, bringing jobs to several thousand Indians. CII,on their website states, “The Indian FMCG sector is the fourth largest sector in the economy with a total market size in excess of US$ 13.1 billion” and is set to grow “to US$ 33.4 billion in 2015.”That’s something to be optimistic about.
The retail sector, including retail (from hypermarkets to small convenience stores), wholesale and trade, is one of the largest sectors to contribute to India’s GDP.Rising incomes, urbanisation, growing aspiration levels and credit availability are key drivers of this sector, with a PwC 2012 report suggesting “India poised to become the fifth largest consumer market globally by 2020, the country has become integral to the growth plans of all global retailers and brands… The retail market is therefore expected to reach USD 1.3 trillion to 1.5 trillion by 2020.” Although consumer spends in retail had slowed down last year, a December 2013 article in Live Mint reports that the industry is hoping for a turnaround after the LokSabha elections, citing availability of retail space and increased consumer spends as reasons for growth:
“On the bright side, Real Estate, which is one of the key challenges for retailers in India due to its limited availability, will see an increase in supply next year, according to a report this month by JLL. Cities such as Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore will have a good supply of retail space, largely around their expanding peripheries, it said.
“The new year will see close to 900,000 sq. m of additional retail space supply hit the pipeline in 2014, as against the 590,000 sq. m in 2013,” AnujPuri, Chairman and Country Head,JLL, said in the report.
To be sure, retail channels comprising hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores are expected to grow to 12-15% of the overall retail market in the next three years, from 7-8% now, according to Gupta and Chakravarti of Deloitte. Modern trade growth will come with new consumers accessing such stores for the first time, existing consumers making repeat purchases and retailers opening new outlets, they said.”
For a country which had been known as a poor provider of healthcare to her people, India has become a leading provider of healthcare to her people as well as globally, through a thriving medical tourism industry.IBEF reports that the Indian healthcare industry “is expected to reach US$ 160 billion by 2017, as per Frost & Sullivan… India’s healthcare system is developing rapidly and continues to expand its coverage, services and expenditure in the public as well as private sectors.”
Substantial growth is expected in medical device and equipment. According to IBEF, “The Indian medical device and equipment market is expected to grow to around US$ 5.8 billion by 2014 and US$ 7.8 billion by 2016… India’s medical device market is currently the fourth largest in Asia with 700 medical device makers, and ranks among the top 20 in the world, as per data from India Semiconductor Association.”
Medical Tourism is another fast-moving sub-industry within the healthcare industry in India. With the finest and experienced specialists and technological edge along with latest equipment and state-of-the-art infrastructure, Indian health tourism industry is gaining momentum. The industry in India is also expected to record revenue worth US$ 1 billion per annum, growing at around 18 per cent and is expected to touch US$ 2 billion by 2015.
The Indian IT-ITeS sector is the most-quoted and the most-respected sector globally, and contributes significantly to the Indian economy through hardware products, software and consultancy services, Business Process Outsourcing, employment generation and exports earnings.
An IBEF report states “India’s IT-business process outsourcing (BPO) industry revenue is expected to cross US$ 225 billion mark by 2020, according to a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) report, titled ‘The SMAC Code-Embracing New Technologies for Future Business’… India’s total IT industry’s (including hardware) share in the global market stands at 7 per cent; in the IT segment the share is 4 per cent while in the ITeS space the share is 2 per cent. India’s IT and BPO sector exports are expected to grow by 12-14 per cent in FY14 to touch US$ 84 billion – US$ 87 billion, according to Nasscom.
Moreover, India plans to spend around US$ 3.9 billion on cloud services during 2013-2017, of which US$ 1.7 billion will be spent on software-as-a-service (SaaS), according the latest outlook of IT research and advisory company, Gartner Inc.”
All this means, the IT-ITeS sector is planning expansion with employment opportunities for many skilled people. According to Dun & Bradstreet, “The IT services and BPO segment is estimated to provide direct employment to around 3.0 mn people and indirect employment to nearly 9.5 mn people as on FY13.”
In the Banking & Financial Services sector there is a bit of good news too. A WSJ blog post adds, “Another thing to watch for in 2014: The Central Bank is expected to hand out licenses to allow new private banks, a move aimed at boosting competition and bring more financial services to rural India.”
There is, indeed, a wave of optimism pushing India forward at the moment.