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Friday, December 29, 2006

Investment and Growth In India

Following the last post it is perhaps just stopping to reflect a bit on what in fact people can invest in in India. Surfing around I found an excellent post from Balaji Viswanathan, which spells out much better than I can off the top of my head just why India's growth is not only sizzling away, but is about to move up to scorching:

First off Balaji starts with a gripe:

In the recent days, I'm pretty much disappointed with what economists forecast for India. I'm not rather disappointed at Indian growth, rather, I'm disappointed at the skills of the economists :P. I dont know whether they understand the whole picture and take all the information into account of what is happening to India.

I entirely agree. Most conventional economists simply do not get the big picture about what is happening in India and its significance.

Then Balaji puts up his own argument:

"I also read a gazillion articles of why people should invest in China, and why India is overheating, India will be affected by slow downs, India is just call-center centric, blah blah blah. Let me get around to my own understanding of what is happening."

He lists seven areas, all of them important, and I will summarise below, but best of all, go read in full:

1. Telecom - By far this is going to be the strongest sector for India in the next decade. In the last three years, our teledensity tripled and now we add 7 million mobile phones a month. At this rate we would move from our current presence of 180 million phones to over 250 million by 2007 and over 500 million by the end of this decade. This would place us head-head with China, and overtake US. Already, VSNL & Reliance's FLAG Telecom's hold the world's largest backbone telecom networks, (undersea cables & fiber optics handling most of Pacific & Atlantic lines) and this greater domestic clout will lead to greater buy outs in the saturated markets & bring more technology to India.

2. Metals & Infrastructure - While analysts always crib about the India's faltering infrastructure, not much of a note is taken when a single state (one of the poorest) secured over 40 deals for investments in this core sectors worth a whopping $100b in a year. Given cheap labor, low cost of procurement and abundance of resources, 100 billion might be worth half a trillion in this state of Orissa. And, with that Reliance is planning to build a 12GW plant (world's largest single power plant), POSCO, Mittal & Tata for massive steel capacity expansion, stunning Aluminium expansion by Vedanta industries et al. and port and road/rail link expansion by a combination of players. Since, this is a poor state such developments can lead to stunning growth and these players are already building a city foused on health care & IT.

3. Banking & Finance- Though often ridiculed, the government owned banks have moved a great deal in the last decade. From being indifferent and lethargic, their employees have increased their zeal in expanding further. Indian banks are among the healthiest in Asia with the lowest Non Performing Assets, and greater branch coverage.

4. Organized Retail - This is one sector that would be a killer application in the future, as they start from almost nil, and would soon have over $50 billion investment in the next couple of years. Reliance has setup a highly ambition project of over few thousand outlets & Malls, Bharti with its Walmart tieup is looking to do big, and other smaller players will try to outbeat them by going early.

5. Hoteling & Real Estate - Enough has been said about the fact that India has just as many hotel rooms as the New York City. While this is a disgrace, see it as a potential. As 99% of the market seems to be unutilized, with proper planning the hoteling industry can easily grow at 100% without reaching saturation for a long time.

6. Healthcare & Pharma- By now you should have heard that medical costs in India are among the lowest in the world. Thus, we have a huge potential for expanding this booming industry as more and more people can now afford medical facilities leadind to a huge domestic expanision, and a lot of countries are thinking about formally sending their patients to India for treatment. And, Indian pharma companies are leading a great expanision, and busy buying assets abroad and expanding R&D facilities. Thus, with greater middle class clout and prosperity, these two industries will have a massive growth as more people can get medical care, and more drug development will be done in India.

7. Auto - There was a time when blindly took outdated european car designs and manufactured small amounts of car for domestic use. The times are changing. In Chennai alone four major manufacturers are setting up huge factories, Tata Motors is world's one of the largest medium & heavy commercial vehicle producer & also eyeing for a $2000 car. In auto components, India is slowly becoming the world's largest manufacturer. With great domestic market growth & a potential for cost cutting using cheap labor & facilities, a lot of foreign majors like BMW, Nissan, Fiat are entering India, big time.

Lastly but by no means leastly, Balaji concludes with one point with whose spirit I again entirely agree: even if there is a global slowdown next year, India may even benefit due to its low exposure and the fact that cheap money would come flooding in.

A world recession can also indirectly benefit India, when its hungry entrepreneurs can get value buy outs at cheaper prices (like how VSNL & Reliance boughtout world's major telecom backbones like Tyco & FLAG). It would also hit upon the margins of international producers who might eye India for greater cost cutting, and Indian government would be more amenable to opening up to overcome the world recession. It would also make companies to look for the bigger & fast moving Indian market than the saturated world markets (like how Vodafone & Oracle are doing) and bring more investments. We benefitted from the American recession of 2001-02 (it increased outsourcing and cheapened telecom assets) and I guess we could now repeat the performance.


Anonymous said...

Hi Edward, thanks for quoting my article. Actually, in the last one week I've renewed my blog and added a dozen articles in economics & India. You might be interesed in some of them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Edward, thanks for quoting my article. Actually, in the last one week I've renewed my blog and added a dozen articles in economics & India. You might be interesed in some of them.

Anonymous said...

Oops Blogger had some issue and my comments are repated multiple times. Sorry for that.

Raj said...

What is the price of an Average house in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan?

2 to 4 Bedrooms
1 to 3 Bathrooms
Kitchen, Living Room, Prayer Room