We are going through a crisis that has no parallels in contemporary world history. A virus that originated in central China's Hubei province has stalled all human activity, be it social, political or economic. According to a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns are likely to cost the global economy up to $8.8 trillion. An estimate by the Manila-based multilateral funding agency has pegged the loss to the Indian economy at nearly $30 billion.
Unprecedented times call for extraordinary measures. On May 12, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a Rs 20 trillion stimulus to revive growth in the country. The largest economic package announced in post-Independent India also seeks to fast-track growth by strengthening the five critical pillars of the economy, infrastructure, system, demography and demand.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the prime minister, approved the methodology for auction of coal and lignite mines or blocks on a revenue-sharing basis. Reforms such as these were long overdue. Our cover story takes a look at what the stimulus could mean, with particular reference to the infrastructure sector, and how companies can leverage it to their advantage. In an exclusive interview with INFRASTRUCTURE TODAY, Niranjan Hiranandani, President, ASSOCHAM and Founder & Managing Director, Hiranandani Group, commends the stimulus as a well-thought-out reform. He, however, regrets that the construction sector has been overlooked.
In his interview, Piyush Somani, CMD & CEO of the Nashik-based ESDS, Software Solution Pvt. Ltd that provides data centres and cloud services to firms all over the world, foresees the increased deployment of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, automation and video surveillance. The present phase is likely to witness the rise of many more firms like ESDS in India Inc.
In the article on smart cities, NSN Murty, Partner & Leader, PwC India, argues the case for the Smart Cities Mission to build sustainable infrastructure that protects natural resources and the environment.
Our feature on rail transport gives an overview of the proposed privatisation of certain parts of the Indian Railways and why the task might prove to be challenging for Union Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal. We also take a look at the ongoing developments in the construction of metro rail networks in cities across India.
The feature on roads & highways examines how the nationwide lockdown has led to a crisis as developers look at ways of coping with cost escalations. A systematic redressal of grievances is in order as, otherwise, the construction targets for roads & highways might be affected in FY2020-21.
Meanwhile, the world's largest lockdown has motivated us to deepen our connection with our audience by utilising digital platforms. Since March, ASAPP Global Group magazines have organised a total of 18 webinars for the different verticals that they cater to. To date, nearly 20,000 people have participated in the webinars, with the quality of speakers and discussions inviting high praise from apex industry bodies like the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and German Machinery and Plant Manufacturers Association (VDMA).
I would like to invite you to register for our future webinars whose details are regularly updated on our websites. We also hope to resume our flagship events once normalcy is restored while observing all the necessary guidelines.
Till then, stay safe!