Some heavy hitting from the Finance Minister puts the Indian economy on a winning wicket, writes India Inc. CEO Manoj Ladwa.

After all the excitement over the Bharatiya Janata Party’s 4-1 sweep of the recently concluded Assembly elections, it is time once again to focus on the nuts of bolts of governance. In the latest issue of ‘India Investment Journal’, we turn our attention to India’s growth story and the man in charge of shepherding the country to greater economic heights.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, as our cover implies, has to bat both like Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid at the same time. I know cricket enthusiasts will pillory me for that statement because these two batsmen are as alike as the proverbial chalk and cheese, but let me explain.

As the election results proved once again, the ordinary Indian appreciates, among other things, the management of the economy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jaitley and is willing to give them more time to make good on the promise of providing greater opportunities and more jobs.

In that sense, Jaitley, who is now wearing the additional hat of the country’s Defence Minister as well following Manohar Parrikar’s triumphant return to Goa as Chief Minister, has used the first two years of his tenure to “build his innings” a la Dravid. But with the next General Elections looming – they are due in a little over two years – Jaitley has already increased the tempo and stepped up the scoring rate as Sehwag was wont to do. And that is what we are focusing on in this issue.

The massive $90 billion he has allocated for infrastructure building in this Budget for 2017-18 is, in my opinion, like the proverbial volley of sixes that will take him closer to a winning score. This figure is quite close to the average investment (public and private) of $95 billion that fuelled the 2007-2011 boom. Yes, I know economists will cite inflation to argue that the present value of $95 billion from a decade ago is a lot higher than the nominal figure, but I would urge such people to look up another very important statistic.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into India in the current year are at an estimated $53 billion.The target for 2017-18: $100 billion. And almost all of this figure will go into the generation of productive assets.

Taken together, I feel this massive dose of foreign and public investment can surely make up for the still poor investment rate of the Indian private sector and get the wheels of the economy rolling at a much higher velocity. Read about Jaitley’s growth gambit in our cover feature of this month’s ‘IIJ’.

Let me add a point that is not covered in that report. As I have written previously, I feel analysts and even Jaitley’s own government is erring on the side of caution while estimating the growth rate for the coming year.

Given the empirical evidence of how investments of about $100 billion per year over a three-four year period can send the growth velocity soaring, I feel Jaitley’s thrust on infrastructure building combined with the rising levels of FDI inflows into India will almost definitely take the annual GDP growth rate beyond 8 per cent in the coming year. You can hold me to that – a year and a bit from now.

Elsewhere in the latest edition, we have put together a Sector Focus package on the Indian defence aeronautical industry, which has both foreign defence contractors such as Lockheed, Boeing, Rolls Royce and SAAB, among others, as well as large Indian groups such as the Tatas, L&T, M&M and Reliance waiting eagerly for large orders to take forward the Make in India dream.

I would also like to draw your attention to our analysis on how the Jan Dhan scheme and demonetisation are coming together to take India closer its goal of becoming a digital (and largely cashless) economy.

Meanwhile, as Jaitley and the Modi government approach the final stretch of their five-year “Test match”, we could see some real heavy hitting from the Finance Minister to push the investment cycle into a faster trajectory.

Manoj Ladwa is the founder of India Inc. and chief executive of MLS Chase Group @manojladwa

The Year 2017 had been ear-marked as UK India Year of Culture by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his tour of Britain in November 2015. That announcement became a reality when Indian Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley, represented the Government of India at a historic reception in Buckingham Palace in London recently.

While the year is set to be packed with an array of cultural events, both in India and the UK, the key message amid all the glitz and glamour is a familiar one: that India is crucial to the British economy, which is on the brink of breaking away from the European Union (EU).

The Government of India recently unveiled its vision for India’s steel manufacturing capabilities by circulating a new draft steel policy for 2017 for public discussion and approval by the Cabinet, writes India Inc. policy expert.

India’s new draft ‘National Steel Policy of 2017’ is an outline for attaining a most ambitious target capacity of 300 million tonnes of crude steel capacity by 2030, which is anticipated as the demand for steel by then. India is producing only around a 100 million tonnes today while China, if we must compare, produces around 750/800 million tonnes a year – about 50 per cent of global capacity.

India Inc. property expert unravels the Indian government’s recent Budget for 2017-18 and its impact on the country’s real estate market.

The central theme of the 2017 Budget in early February seems to be towards creating cash flow and consumption from the bottom of the pyramid. This would then flow upwards to more robust and long-term capital formation at the hands of the development companies. The same trend is observed in the changes to the real estate rules in the current Budget.

Priti Patel took charge of the UK government’s Department for International Development (DfID) at a time when the country’s aid programme for India was evolving from the traditional hand-outs system to a more collaborative one. ‘India Investment Journal’ caught up with the minister as she completed six months in Britain’s Cabinet.

“We don’t give traditional aid to India but if we look at the facts – the UK is one of the largest investors in India and India is one of the largest investors in Britain. India invests more in the UK than whole of the European Union (EU) put together.

It took its time coming, but in the end Bharat (more on that later) trumped the so-called political experts from New Delhi’s gin-n-tonic cocktail circuit. And how!

The recently concluded round of elections to five Assembly assemblies returned a verdict that can only be described as a thumping endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership of the country.

The final tally reads BJP: 4 states; Congress: 1 state. We will now have BJP governments in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and BJP-led coalitions in Goa and Manipur. The Congress won Punjab thanks to the personal charisma of Captain Amarinder Singh, the former Maharaja of Patiala and the party’s chief ministerial candidate, as well as the two-term anti-incumbency of the government in which the BJP was the junior partner.

India’s largest state has caught the attention of investors of late but has a long way to go.

In one of his earliest interactions with the press after the formation of Niti Aayog, India’s premier think tank, two years ago, Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya took exception to Rajasthan being referred to as a “BIMAROU” state. The oft-used acronym means diseased or sick in Hindi and is made up of the Indian states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. It was coined in the 1980’s by prominent demographer and economic analyst Ashish Bose to refer to the poor economic conditions in these states.

Jaipur, the largest city of Rajasthan, prides itself for its magnificence and vibrancy. Popularly known as the Pink City because of the colour of the stone used exclusively in the walled city, Jaipur’s creation dates back to 1727 – when Jai Singh II established it as India’s first planned city. With splendid fortresses, majestic palaces, tranquil temples and beautiful havelis, Jaipur has proved an attractive tourist destination over centuries. Other than these captivating attractions, Jaipur is also home to exquisite handicrafts and spectacular jewellery.

India Inc. yoga expert unravels the ancient Indian practice of erring pupils being made to pull their ears as punishment.

In the Vedic tradition of education, disciplinary action on students was based on the principle that students made mistakes because of a lack of awareness. The Guru’s job was therefore simply to address that issue in order to bring the student back on track. In the seemingly infinite wisdom of these sages, they developed techniques that increased awareness allowing students to better grasp their scholarly endeavours. How did they do it? They made their students pull their ears.

India’s Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley, just completed a packed tour of the UK during which Prime Minister Theresa May dropped in to a Downing Street meeting with his British counterpart, Chancellor Philip Hammond. ‘India Investment Journal’ caught up with the senior Indian Cabinet minister in London to explore his message for foreign investors, a possible free trade agreement (FTA) with post-Brexit Britain and the next phase of his dramatic reform agenda for the Indian economy.

Is post-Brexit UK a more, or less, attractive trading partner?

There is a considerable amount of interest in India, particularly after Brexit. Correspondingly my discussions in the past have also indicated that both investors and the government here [Britain] are looking for expanding opportunities of trade with India.

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has carefully nursed the country’s economy back to sound health.

He is equally at home rubbing shoulders with the world’s leading industrialists and investors in Davos, London and Singapore and inviting them to invest in India as he is strategising the nitty-gritty of how to win elections in hinterland Indian states. And all this when he isn’t dispensing advice to some of the thorniest legal problems of the land.