India has been described as a ‘Rich country where poor people live.’ The last few years have seen incredible growth in the Indian economy with huge organisaitions such as Reliance, Tata and Mittal making their presence felt on a global scale. Tata for example shocked many in the UK by buying Corus Steel, and is now going on to purchase Jaguar and Land Rover, which would make them one of the largest overseas investors in UK manufacturing. From 2000 to 2005, The Indian Economy grew from $460.2 Billion USD to $906.3 Billion making it the second fastest growing economy in the world after China.
The worlds’ largest democracy, India is making huge investment in infrastructure which was evident while travelling round the country. In Mumbai, for example, more than 4500 crore INR (over 5 Billion GBP) is being spent on a project to link the port complex with downtown Mumbai via a 6 lane bridge across the bay, linking two of the most crucial areas in India – downtown Mumbai is the commercial capital of India, and the JNPT / Nhava Sheva port complex handles over 60% of the seafreight in India. This 22km bridge would cut average driving times between the two by 1.5 hours with a projected traffic by 2011 of 46,580 cars per hour. The area of Navi Mumbai (New Mumbai) where the bridge would terminate looks like any western city, with Malls, a state of the art railway and 30+ storey apartment buildings as far as the eye can see.
On the other hand, 26% of the 1.1 Billion population lives in poverty, that is, they earn less than 560 INR (£6.89 GBP / $14.20 USD) per month as explained in this interesting article. Any Indian would agree that this is the problem that needs a solution. To see such poverty at the side of some of the most expensive real-estate on the planet drives this home forcibly.
Progress is being made, with over 90% attendance at primary school, even in rural areas, and the development of low-cost, heavily subsidised housing to replace the slums that sprawl across every major city. Looking back at our own (UK) history, it is a similar picture to the Victorian / Industrial Revolution era. The big difference with Indian development is that they are going from the Industrial Revolution to the 21st Century and missing each of the steps in between…!
It was incredible to be hundreds of miles away from anywhere in rural India, to pull out a mobile phone and have a full signal…! Even in the middle of the jungle, we could text and phone home. The shop pictured below sold phone cards and DVD’s! This is typical in this country of contrasts. India is definitely a rich country. India definitely has a lot of poor people. But the pace of development is incredible, and it is a country ‘on the up.’ It remains to be seen if it can get to grips with the dichotomy of rich and poor which is at the heart of its future, if it can, then India is without a doubt a superpower in the making.
This article was provided by John Cave, Founder of Westhaven Worldwide Logistics.