Treasures of India - GulfToday

Treasures of India


Top officials during the media briefing at the Expo 2020 in Dubai.

Inayat-ur-Rahman, Business Editor

India needs around $700 billion of investment from 2021 to 2031 to boost its urban infrastructure services like Urban Mobility, Affordable Housing, Water Security, Clean India Mission and Smart Cities Mission.

This was stated by Kunal Kumar, Joint Secretary and Mission Director (Smart Cities Mission), Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India, during an exclusive interview with Gulf Today.

“The main idea behind the pavilion is to expose the world and all the people visiting the Expo to get a chance to see all the Treasures of India,”  Kumar added.

“And when I say all the treasures, it’s very difficult to really create a pavilion that shows all the treasures of India. But most of the highlights- for example, if you see pavilion is talking about ancient art and culture, it is also talking about India’s most modern scientific discoveries.

“It is talking about places to visit also it is talking about the virtual and technology achievements of the country. It is talking about yoga and Ayurveda, and it is also talking about the modern innovations in the field of health and many other sectors like our entrepreneurs.”

“The startup India program is also represented, and we have the ministries of the government of India visiting every week a new ministry is coming in showcasing what we are doing.”

“This week we are here are Urban ministry- so similarly different states are coming every two weeks. So, the states are showcasing their offerings.

The central government is there, the industries are there, there is yoga there is there is monuments, art, history, culture, scientific discoveries, space exploration.”

“So, what we are trying to show is a glimpse of the country to the world.

“We want to invite people to come to our country and experience those things firsthand. So this is an invitation to everyone in Dubai Expo including you to come and be our guest.”

Highlighting  urbanization in India, Kamar stated: “We are a country of about 1.3 billion population out of which, as of today, close to around 36% people live in urban areas.

“And this definition of urban is an Indian definition. If you go by many other definitions across the world- if you go by the Mexican definition, we are already 60%, if we go by the Chinese definition, we are already 60%. If you go by the definition that world bank defines as urban index- we are already 55%.

“So, these numbers are across, but with the Indian definition - we are 36% which means roughly around 46 Crore (460 million) people in Indian cities.”

“By 2030, this number will go to 600 billion plus and by 2046 we will go beyond 800 million which is where we are supposed to be more urban than rural, which is more than half the population of India.”

“This is both, an opportunity as well as a challenge. Opportunity because the economy is driven by demand- all the malls that you have in Dubai there is no demand, there is nothing that is going to sell, and the stop shops will shut down. “

“The demand is coming from the urbanizing population in India. People move from rural areas to urban areas.

“The incomes go up they demand better health, demand better education, better leisure, to better recreation, restaurants. Urbanization will draw a lot of demand, there will be a number of activities that will happen, a lot of people will demand better services, better infrastructure, economic growth and better quality of life.”

“Which is where the challenge is to get everything together in a limited number of resources because you don’t have unlimited resources.

“So if you see the amount of investment that is required in urban areas over the next 10 years, it’s close to around $700 million. And that is an estimate which was created some 10 years back, but I’m giving you inflation adjusted figures, even that I think will be very conservative. “

As you can see more than a trillion-dollar investment over the next 10- 12 years in the urban sector.

That is the kind of opportunity that exists for global investors, which is why we are talking to investment firms, UAE companies, we’re talking to Gulf companies, you’re talking to companies across the world, whether it is you know your real estate companies from UAE or maybe the Siemens or DP World and many other companies who are present here and their respective country pavilions.

Kumar echoed that it is estimated  to $700 billion over the next 10 years to the urbanization drive and it will easily cross trillion and it can go beyond.

The old way of calculating investment is not very useful because modern technology is making things more efficient to access and plus we go by the principle of creating more from less.

We are trying to see optimization by seeing how we can use resources for maximum impact and create solutions which are smart, which can be accessible, good quality as well as they are affordable for a large number of people.

“It is not only the size, but the quality of the investment, the ability to have more impact from less resources to be able to be innovative with our investments so that if you spend one, you should get output of four How do you do that? That is the challenge before the country. Hence smart financing is the way to go. That’s how it is to be done. “

“We are inviting UAE developers to invest in the Indian realty market. Emaar is operating, Damac is entering now.  Sobha developers also has a big footprint there. “We are also in talks with RTA and we are trying to see as to how we can work together.

“Then we are also in talks with Nakheel, DP World among others. Every company who really wants to make it big in the next two decades has to explore India.

“That’s where the most amount of investment, the biggest wave of urbanization in the next two decades is going to happen.”

Kumar noted that they  would be be having roadshows going forward. And one is in month of June, which is now under the last stages of planning is because in 2022, India will be the host to the presidency of G20. As part of that we are planning to explore urban. Based on that we will finalizing our plan.

And after that, and of course, there will be a series of events that we will be organizing. The first thing is the Expo and then coinciding with the G20 summit and followed by other events.  

“India is currently developing 100 cities as smart cities. And the population of those 100 cities is 100 billion. This is to understand the magnitude and $28 billion investment is going into creating those cities. Smart in our context is creating cities which make people’s lives better and solve their problems to meet their aspirations.”

“Smart is not about use of technology, technology is a medium. Building smart cities is more about innovation and thinking differently. Our plan is to take learning from these 100 cities and take it further to 4000 cities across the country,” Kumar concluded.

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