There is a great concern due to India’s recent economic growth at its slowest pace in over six years in the June quarter following a sharp deceleration in consumer demand and tepid investment. This coming after steady and consistent growth for many of the preceding years has got everyone worried and all going back to drawing boards and many doomsday specialists predicting the total fall. To understand this in totality we need to understand the base for India’s Economic growth and sustenance which is its unsaturated and demanding market.
But this is not to take for granted to grow forever and its periodic slow growth wi; be part of the phenomenon and will repeat when some corrective actions have to be taken. The government has already announced a series of measures have taken as part of its efforts to put growth back on track.
Gross domestic product (GDP) grew 5% in the first quarter of FY20, data released by the government showed, marking the slowest growth since the fourth quarter of FY13. GDP growth was 8% in the year-earlier quarter and 5.8% in the preceding one. Consumption, the bedrock of growth in the past few years, collapsed to an 18-quarter low of 3.1% from 10.6% in the March quarter, pointing to fragile sentiment. Investments grew 4%, up from 3.6% in the previous quarter. The slowdown in investment and consumer demand derailed manufacturing, which grew just 0.6%. A meager 2% rise in the farm sector added to the demand slowdown.
Assets of India. For these to jump back to preceding numbers we need to understand the Assets of the country and its requirements in various sectors :
Transport Sector: The total road length of the country increased significantly from 3.99 lakh km in 1951 to 5.9 million km at present, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.2%. It is the second-largest road network in the world after the USA. A good road network is an essential requirement for the rapid growth of the economy. Roads provide connectivity to remote areas; open up of backward regions and facilitate access to markets, trade and investment.
Assets of Worship Places: India is a diverse country, with over 1.37 billion people following various religions, cultures, traditions, languages, festivals, etc. There are around 3.1 million worship places all over India that include Temples, Mosques, Gurudwaras, Churches, and Monasteries, etc. India is a “Land of Faith”. Apparently yearly, take a glimpse at some of the richest temples that earn up to INR. 5,200 crores (approximately). Besides, there are around 5 lakh acres of land property have held by these temples. The World Gold Council estimates that the gold with temples alone in India could be over 20,000 tonnes and that estimated equal worth of INR. 60 lakh crore (≈US$842.30 billion).
Gold Assets in our Indian Households: Households in India may have piled up around 24,000-25,000 tonnes of gold, remaining the world’s largest holders of the precious metal, the value of the holdings (25,000 tonnes) would be as much as US$1,135 billion, or equivalent of more than 40% of India’s nominal gross domestic product (GDP) in FY19.
Tourism Sector: There are around 3,650 ancient monuments and archaeological sites in India; (Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)); 46 site museums are under the control of ASI; 98 Major National Parks in India; There are a total of 981 World Heritage Sites located in 137 “state parties”. Of the 981 sites, 759 are cultural, 193 are natural and 29 are mixed properties.
There are 104 existing national parks in India covering an area of 40,501.13 km2, which is 1.23% of the geographical area of the country; there are 551 existing wildlife sanctuaries in India covering an area of 119,775.80 km2, which is 3.64% of the geographical area of the country.
Recreation Tourism like deep-sea diving, snorkeling, yachting, and Cruise Ships can bring in serious revenue! The Ministry needs to develop this area. We have so much of sea & waterway to anchor private yachts at much lower costs than other countries. This would also help promote the shipbuilding industry. A cruise along the coasts of India would be quite an experience as well as it’d cover the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean & Bay of Bengal. Foreign Exchange Earnings from Tourism & Annual Growth Rate is INR. 177,874 crores (US$27.31 billion) & 15.4%.
Education & Manpower Strength: India has 600 million young people more than half of India’s population are under 25 years old; no country has more young people and they’re set to change our world. India has more than 6,214 engineering and technology institutions which are enrolling 2.9 million students and more than 33,023 colleges in India granting degrees. Around 1.5 million engineers are released into the job market every year for its US$2-trillion economy. Learning skills is the key to get employed in the competitive world and Indian engineering students need proper skill development support for their employability and meet the Global employment gap.
Overseas Indians are various individuals or ethnic groups associated with India, usually through ancestry, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship or other affiliation and live abroad overseas. According to a Ministry of External Affairs report, there were 31 million NRIs and PIOs residing outside India as of December 2018. India has one of the largest diaspora populations in the world with over 15.6 million according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs India has retained its position as the world’s top recipient of remittances with its diaspora sending a whopping US$79 billion back home in 2018, as per World Bank report.
Telecom Sector: The last four years have witnessed unprecedented growth in wireless data usage for communication and entertainment. The total number of wireless telephone subscribers was 1176 million at the year ending 2018. The mobile data usage per subscriber in India is amongst the highest in the world and the price of data amongst the lowest. Percentage of the number of wireless data subscribers over total wireless subscribers increased from 36.32% at the year ending 2017 to 49.17% at the year ending 2018. The total revenue collected from wireless data usage was INR. 54,671.44 Crore (excluding rental revenue in the year 2018 as compared to INR. 38,882crore in the year 2017.
Healthcare Sector: Health Care is an area where India can surely achieve more. The Global word is that Indian doctors and Health Care Professionals are second to none, in the Nursing & Post Surgery care, ICU/ICCU/ICCMU/Emergency & Trauma Care. The Indian medical tourism industry is growing at 18% CAGR year on year and is expected to be worth US9 billion by 2020. Currently, it has nearly 18% of the global medical tourism market share and is expected to be 20% by 2020. The country offers a complete bouquet of healthcare services at an affordable price to the world. Highly skilled doctors and medical professionals, world-class hospital infrastructure, cost-effective treatment, and personalized care are some of the reasons for the fast growth of the medical tourism industry in India.
There are several factors that influence medical tourism, the critical one being the quality of medical care. India has over 500+ accredited healthcare providers (JCI and NABH) and uses world-class technologies on par with the western world. Indian doctors are known for their excellence across the globe. One study reveals that over 10% of the doctors practicing in the UK and US are Indian. The cost of treatment in India is approximately 40% less than that in any developed western countries without compromising on the quality of care.
The buzz word now is Alternative Medicine, though. There is NO holistic alternative medical treatment organization in the world that can offer the best of all or most of the disciplines of Alternative Medicine & Surgery. India can boast of housing most of the alternative medicine disciplines like Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, acupuncture & acupressure therapies and of course the King of Good Health, YOGA! We can score here even by importing knowledge on Traditional Chinese Medicine & Bach Remedies which are already in practice here. This would give India the fillip it needs to develop as a Health Care destination. Even many of the islands surrounding India can be developed into Health Care Resorts under Government branding.
Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old system of natural healing with origins in the Vedic culture of India, has been enjoying a major resurgence in both its native land and throughout the world. The AYUSH industry is estimated to be worth US$10 billion and is expected to grow to US$25 billion by 2020.
Blue Economy: India comprises 28 States and nine Union Territories with 7,517 km coastline and 1,208 islands which include over 700 uninhabited Islands and there are 185 lighthouses across our country that will be used as an economic tool by Indian states. Out of these 9 states and 4 Union Territories that form the coastal area of the country. The hidden potential of uninhabited islands could lead to enhance economic activity of mainland states of India.
Agriculture Sector: We should really be looking at what Agri products are being imported & start producing them in India. Especially with J&K & Ladakh looking for investments & the potential in the N-E still lying untapped. We can export our Agri products to Sri Lanka & Maldives & Bangladesh against the local currency to boost the export numbers as these countries will be willing to pay a higher price for soft currency imports from India. Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about 58% of India’s population. Gross Value Added by agriculture, forestry, and fishing is estimated at INR. 18.53 trillion (US$271 billion) in FY18. In 2017-18, total food grain production was estimated at 275 million tonnes (MT). India is the largest producer (25% of global production), and consumer (27% of world consumption) of pulses in the world. India’s annual milk production was 165 MT (2017-18), making India the largest producer of milk, jute and pulses, and with the world’s second-largest cattle population 190 million. It is the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, cotton, and groundnuts, as well as the second-largest fruit and vegetable producer, accounting for 10.9% and 8.6% of the world fruit and vegetable production, respectively. The Indian food industry is poised for huge growth, increasing its contribution to world food trade every year due to its immense potential for value addition, particularly within the food processing industry. The Indian food and grocery market is the world’s sixth-largest, with retail contributing 70% of the sales.
In these sectors of the economy, there would be guaranteed growth for many decades as the need and requirements are there. The government has to play a catalytic role with proper Governance. Here Secured Governance would play a crucial role to get the development in sync with the requirements and with minimal spending.
Secured Governance Strategy
The secured governance concept offers a sustainable development model for government and societies can find approaches that will move towards all key goals – environmental protection, social wellbeing, and economic development. Generally, the government needs to be work in partnership with private stakeholders and foreign investors to utilize the hidden potential of the above mentioned Indian assets.
We should be back to the high growth path soon, new businesses through private stakeholders are an important source of new investment. Here Government needs to accelerate its policies of disinvestments from commercial ones and play a Secured role in a critical role in select sectors and support these where Private sectors would lead the growth story. Attracting new businesses generates employment and increases the diversity and prosperity of the local economy. The Government of India could commit to pursuing sustainable development through state government and private-sector-led growth.
The state governments would have to provide the last mile connectivity and be responsible for facilitating, promoting and ensuring community and economic development in order to secure opportunities for economic and business development. The present Indian assets spread over various sectors and locations would automatically get the Economy back on track with increased employment, amenity, economic and social strength of our country through active private sector participation.
Opinions expressed in the article are of personal and not of The Policy Times. For facts and credibility, viewers are requested to reach to the author.
Dr. P. Sekhar, Chairman of MTGF, Global Smart Cities Panel
Mr. Ramesh R, Infra, Tech Expert, Singapore