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Interesting times!


At the launch of Construction Week India, we are all fully aware of the timing.

Interesting is the term I would use to describe it despite the current favourites like recession, crisis and downturn.

There’s no denying the element of truth in these terms but these have caused more panic (and pain) than the actual situation.

There’s an insight with which the Chinese curse ‘May you live in interesting times’ was coined – True leaders are forged during calamities. And that’s the thought behind using the term ‘interesting’ for the current times.

Lower interest rates on home loans may give some boost to realty but developers also need to do their bit. It is difficult to say whether buy back offers, buy one-get one free offer, get a car free with a flat offer and so on are desperate measures or gimmicks.

These are short term steps but a stronger long term vision is required. These offers are targeted at the high-end buyer but the future holds a greater promise in the affordable housing segment.

The bottom of the pyramid has enormous volumes to offer; as per the 10th Five-year plan, there is a deficit of 27 billion houses across India! Moreover, this segment is likely to get concessions from the government.

Recently, the Maharashtra chief minister declared 2009 as the year of ‘Housing for common man’ and also announced, in the same breath, several measures to boost real estate.
The infrastructure sector needs huge funds; the investment of US$500 billion (approximately Rs25 lakh crore) estimated in the 11th 5-year plan looks tough. Easing of ECB norms may not have helped so far and the loans from Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan may not be enough in the long run. But these are good signs.

India is not isolated and hence it is likely to feel tremors of what’s happening globally.

But the same economy that was doing so well till recently cannot crash due to a financial earthquake whose epicentre is nowhere close to Mumbai or Delhi.

A seasoned economist recently said: “The fundamentals of Indian economy are very strong. Our banking system and financial institutions are well capitalised and their depositors are wholly secure.”

Incidentally, he also happens to be the prime minister of India. The ADB too says that developing Asian economies would do better than the remaining world.

Although India’s economic growth is expected to slow down to 6.9% in 2009, the ADB chief believes that these are high growth rates. Compare this to what Rajnikant Ajmera, president, Credai told Construction Week India – “It’ll be a golden period for our industry if our economy is able to sustain a rate of over 6%.” Our optimism is not off the mark, is it?

I close on that positive note with an assurance that with Construction Week India, you will always get what matters to the industry without compromising on the editorial standards. Do write in. Criticism, appreciation, suggestions or opinions, all are welcome.

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