Even as we usher in the first phase of Unlock 1.0, businesses are slowing gearing up to resume operations, with a hopeful mood and spirit to face the uncertain days ahead. While the government initiatives with tax holidays and special economic boost package for SME/ MSME’s and agriculture segment are helping boost the morale, the fight for over-riding the impending slowdown is far from over. With long term goals for manufacturing, agriculture, logistics, and international trade underway, the most imperative initial boost is set to come from Infrastructure.
As an economy, the government initiative to infuse investments in infrastructure is going to play a key role in reviving growth. Honorable PM of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, has already included Infrastructure as a crucial part of his ‘5i agenda for economic revival’. From transportation, logistics, agriculture, industry, telecommunications, to finance, healthcare, manufacturing, and education, all sectors rely on a strong infrastructure set up. While in the initial stages of revival, infrastructure investments will help boost employment, generate income, in the long run, it is set to boost the growth of the ancillary sectors, allowing stronger revival. Some key infrastructure developments that will drive growth across sectors include:
1. Logistics & Transportation: Roads, railways, airways, and waterways are the lifeline of logistics and supply chain networks. During the union budget, the government has already pledged an INR 15 Lakh Crore for Road and Highway construction across the country, in the next two years. Plans are already in the making; for several new roadways, railways and water transport system. These investments are set to not only enhance development in industry and business but also drive growth and development in the surrounding areas. Urban-rural connectivity will improve, making the movement of people and goods faster, while driving real estate development, which will be followed by SME/ MSME industries, residences and other lifestyle infrastructure that will follow.
2. IT and Communications: Digital infrastructure is the second-largest backbone of the modern world and India is pushing through to become a digitally strong network. As a country with a fast-growing number of internet users and one of the leading population with smartphones, India has seen exponential internet penetration and use over the past decade. Now, with government plans to bring in 5G network and connectivity to link rural post offices and government bodies via the web, IT infrastructure is set to revolutionise communication, e-commerce, the industry as well as collaboration and opportunities for growth. Financial technology or FinTech is another area that can benefit from the development of IT infrastructure, allowing a fast-paced adoption of the digital economy. Further, this is also going to help set up a favourable ecosystem for the growth of new-age technology like IoT, AI and ML, speeding up technological advancement in business and lifestyle.
3. Healthcare: The COVID-19 scenario has opened our eyes to the need for robust healthcare infrastructure. While India has performed way better than most countries in handling the pandemic, the need for a more accessible and efficient healthcare system, complete from preventive care, diagnosis, in-patient care and critical care needs to be improved at the grass-root level. Driving healthcare infrastructure growth would allow the economy to not just access a larger number of active and healthy individuals, but to also offer a strong line of defence against preventable diseases, thus helping reduce the cost of medical care while allowing faster recovery of those fighting diseases.
While the post-COVID-19 business might look uncertain at first glance, Infrastructure investments have proven precedence for a revival of the economy in the face of an impending global slowdown. While the country is already on the path to resume functions after a 2.5-month-long lockdown, the steps for revival are trusted and effective.
Disclaimer: The author of this article is Agnelorajesh Athaide, Chairman, St. Angelo’s VNCT Ventures&Serial and Social Entrepreneur.