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28 Mar, 2024 13:52

India will be a ‘centerpiece of the world’s economy’ – real estate tycoon to RT

Billionaire Niranjan Hiranandani reveals how the focus on infrastructure is moving the country forward in the show Let’s Talk Bharat
India will be a ‘centerpiece of the world’s economy’ – real estate tycoon to RT

Indian billionaire, co-founder and managing director of Mumbai-based real estate giant Hiranandani Group, Niranjan Hiranandani, has lauded the focus of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on improving India’s infrastructure to achieve double-digit growth and lift up millions of poor people to the middle class.

Owning a home has long been an inspiration of India’s middle class, Hiranandani said on the new RT show, Let’s Talk Bharat, hosted by veteran actor Anupam Kher. “The first national housing policy which we drafted during [Prime Minister Atal Bihari] Vajpayee’s time – I was a part of that committee. And Mr. Modi has taken it forward,” the billionaire said.

He noted that under the government’s housing scheme for the urban poor – Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – 12 million houses are being built (and more than double the number in rural areas). Public infrastructure in the country has also improved, Hiranandani said, with new roads, subways, and airports on the way.

In the past decade, for instance, Mumbai, India’s financial hub, has seen unprecedented infrastructure development, Hiranandani noted. He claimed that in the next decade, with a continuing focus from the government, Mumbai will also become slum-free. The city is known as having the world’s largest slum, Dharavi – over 2.39 square kilometers and a population of around 1 million people. Overall, Mumbai has around 2,400 slums, according to government data released in 2022.

Hiranandani believes the Indian leadership’s focus is crucial in achieving these targets. “With Prime Minister Modi, one thing is certain – if he focuses on it, and says I will do it, you can really believe him,” he said.

The biggest challenge in the next couple of years for India is training people in various skills, Hiranandani noted. According to the billionaire, the share of Indians employed in agriculture in rural areas, which stands at around 40% today, will reduce to just 15% in the next 10 to 15 years with rapid urbanization.

“These people will get skilled and get other jobs [rather than agriculture]. Because today they are either unemployed or underemployed. So what is going to happen in the next couple of years is because GDP is going to grow, there are going to be more employment and more demand for these people,” Hiranandani said.

“We are the fastest growing nation in the world. We have pulled up 100 million people from abject poverty into not abject poverty – but they are not up. So they have to move from that level to middle class,” he suggested.

Asked where India will stand in 2047 – 100 years after it gained independence from Great Britain – Hiranandani predicted that India will be the “supplier of skills to the world.”

“Whether it is doctors, nurses, thinkers, CEOs, we will be the suppliers to the world in terms of services. We will be the centerpiece of the world economy,” he said.

Reflecting on the aspirations of the country, the billionaire noted the shift from the “focus on GDP” to “equanimity and emotional intelligence,” adding: “There is too much focus only on GDP growth today because we don’t have adequate GDP. The day we have adequate GDP, the emotional quotient will become important.”

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