Dr.Rahul Kumar, Senior Journalist, In an exclusive interview with Pratap Padode, Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Construction World magazine & Founder & Director, First Construction Council is confident that the target of a $5 trillion economy is achievable in India.
What are your views on the current situation of the construction industry in India?
A few years back, India was passing through policy paralysis, the measures taken at the central government level were not enough to boost up the construction industry. There was a trust deficit between the builders & the home buyers. Today, the construction industry has already picked up the momentum. Big & small construction companies are taking new projects across India. In the coming years, India will lead the world in the construction industry since India has surplus land availability. The construction of highways, roads, and tunnels have further upgraded the connectivity to boost up trade between the states.
India is facing a lot of shortage of skilled manpower, what are your suggestions to the government?
India is a rich country with surplus manpower. The central government has established an independent Skill Development Ministry and allocated funds to skill manpower. The steps taken are very effective in skilling India. There is an urgent need to target manpower from the states where 70 percent of people live in villages. We must understand that the world is changing so the technologies. In order to compete at the international level, India needs strong skilled manpower laced with advanced technologies.
It is often alleged that FDI investment in India is un-even in the construction industry, what is your viewpoint?
India is a vast country having 29 states. It is a fact that foreign investors tend to look for areas where social & political unrest is at zero level. Bengaluru city in Karnataka state is known as a high-tech hub in India. Every state of India has a vast potential for the industry to explore and invest & build. Frankly speaking, state governments must take initiatives in collaboration with First Construction Council bodies or such bodies to boot up the construction industry in the state. I believe, if the state governments shake hands with such bodies the sky is the limit. This disparity can only be removed if strong linkages between states and various stakeholders are removed.
You are a Founder & Director of First Construction Council, please tell us more about this.
The idea behind setting up of First Construction Council in India is to promote research in the construction industry. First Construction Council is a Think Tank body which will coordinate with all the stakeholders and conduct primary & secondary research across India. We have tied up with DODG, data & Analytics New York based Industry Insights Research to conduct various construction industry-related research in India in the future. Mr. Stephen A Jones, Senior Director of DODG having more than three decades of experience in research and analysis is going to be a council partner. By doing so we will be able to understand the challenges & opportunities existing in the construction industry. The findings of such studies in the future will help the government of India in formulating sustainable & viable policies.
What are your viewpoint of Corporate Social Responsibility? How you see the role of CSR in financial inclusion?
India is a democratic country. Democracy means everyone should have the right to food, shelter, and clothing. The role of CSR in India is very positive. Many multinational companies in India are promoting talents through various initiatives. For example, Reliance Industry has been supporting sports, schools and transforming the lives of the underprivileged children in the country. According to my view, it is the moral duty of every multinational company to help and assist the children of the underprivileged class. This is the only way forward to include all sections of the society in the mainstream society. Further, I would like to stress upon that in order to sustain development for the future generations in India we must practice egalitarianism. Prevailing massive social & economic inequalities can be removed only if we welcome & embrace people belonging to all sections of the society. Modern India has no place for gender inequality, social & economic disabilities.
You said $5 trillion economy target is achievable, could you please throw some more light on this issue?
India is already on the global map. When I visit countries like the USA, UK, Canada, Russia, China, or South Asian countries I find business people are talking about India so India is on the right trajectory for growth & prosperity. For example, India has been ranked the best country by the global prosperity ranking for the investment environment. The government of India has already announced several domestic airports for promoting connectivity between states. New road highways are being built. New rail links are built. The Smart Cities projects have unleashed a new era in India for the construction industry particularly. Public-Private partnership initiatives have opened up the doors for FDI. Huge funds from the developed nations & the emerging economies are coming to India. If we see at the domestic scenario, new entrepreneurs, builders, traders, suppliers & various stakeholders, etc. are entering into the construction industry while targeting also 2 tier cities in India. Banks are disbursing loans for the projects. Looking at all these positive signs currently prevailing in the construction industry I am confident that the target of a $ 5 trillion economy is achievable.
Dr. Rahul Kumar holds a PhD in sociology from the Department of Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. India. He is an independent researcher and senior media columnist. His research & writing interest extend to macro social & political & international affairs. He is working currently with the “The Asian Independent UK” newspaper as a Bureau Chief. His book on “Elderly Punjabis in Indian Diaspora” traces trajectories of Elderly Punjabi migration to U.K. He is a member of the Editorial Committee of Global Research Forum for Diaspora and Transnationalism (GRFDT) New Delhi. India. The views expressed by the author in this article are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the paper.