Is India doing well? This question is often asked, as to which the answer typically is that India is not merely doing well, it is in fact shining. India is the fourth largest economy in the world in terms of GDP. She is behind only the US, China and Japan. Trade is at an all time high and foreign companies are eager to make investments in this promising economy. Her earnings from outsourcing and soft exports are skyrocketing and the treasury is bulging with foreign exchange reserves of INR 15, 76,706 crore (as of November 2011).
The signs of prosperity are everywhere. There are more cars, cell phones, houses, flyovers, cinema halls, shopping malls, foreign goods and TV channels. Indians are now choosing between Samsung’s Galaxy and Apple’s iPad and between Skoda Yeti and Hyundai EON.
Look at India’s capital, New Delhi. It sure looks like the prosperous cities of the West. Clothes from Nike, Levis, Benetton, Hugo Boss and Van Heusen vie for attention. McDonald, KFC, TGIF and Dominos offer the most popular of the world’s fast foods. Wines and cheeses from all over the world have finally arrived. Honda, GM, Hyundai, Suzuki, Ford, BMW, Audi and Mercedes are looking at this market to sell their latest vehicles. No international hotel chain worth its name wants to be left out, be it Hyatt, Marriot, Holiday Inn, Intercontinental, Hilton, Meridian, Crown Plaza or Radisson.
Yes, India has come a long way since Dr. Manmohan Singh played a key role in opening the nation’s doors in the early 90s. Liberalization achieved in short order what 45 years of leftist-socialist policies adopted in the Nehru-Indira-Rajiv period could not attain.
A major revolution has taken place in the communication industry. India is now ranked second in the world, with over 865 million cell phones users in India (as of August 2011). Over 100 million people used the internet to search for information and entertainment (as of December 2010), making India the fourth largest nation in the world in terms of Internet users.
Under state ownership, people could view only what India’s government TV channels wanted. Not any longer. Private telecasting companies have spelt the end of programs showing Indians how to grow potatoes.
Another industry that has boomed is aviation. India is the ninth largest market for aviation. In 2008, 29.8 million people travelled by air to and from India, a massive leap from the numbers recorded in the 70s. Around 50 million international passengers are expected to be travelling to and from India by 2015. Opportunities are set to grow, with projections of 69 foreign airlines from 49 different countries being part of India’s aviation industry.
Development is not restricted to cities. Benefits are spreading across the country and rural areas are witnessing growth too. Many companies are experiencing the highest growth in the sale of their products in smaller towns and villages.
However, India can do better. It can shine even more by reducing government intervention and trashing populist measures. India needs to stop collecting taxes in the name of education or welfare. It needs to revamp its labour laws and put an end to reservations (for education, jobs and small industries). Customs and excise duties need to be eliminated. Restrictions in foreign investment in retail and all other sectors need to be removed- only then India’s long suffering consumer get the product which are enjoyed by citizens of the US, Switzerland and Singapore.
It is only when all these things fall into place will the economy grow to become the superpower it deserves to be. We are second only to China as far as our population resources are concerned. We cannot be satisfied until we are either number one or number two in this world.