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EDITORIAL

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Dear Reader,

Mother India stands glorified by Her son Swami Vivekananda.

While addressing the World Religion Congress in Chicago, USA, on September 11, 1893, he thanked the organisers in the name of millions of Hindu people irrespective of class and creed, and said, “I am proud to belong to a religion – Hinduism, which has taught the world both universal tolerance and acceptance. We accept all religions as pure. My mother India has sheltered the prosecuted and refugees of all religions like Zoroastrians, Judaism, and all nationalities of the earth.” The hall packed with 5000 audience representing all religions across the world and other eminent personalities was filled with thunderous applause and clapping for a while. The next day, many newspapers had carried the news of a Hindu monk who received this unprecedented appreciation. His messages for the welfare of the humanity and his teachings on peace, harmony, love and service still remain relevant.

Capital investment has not been picking up. It has rather fallen. Excess capacity, delay in approach, number of clearances, environmental issues, high rate of interest, sluggish demands are fettering the investments. Manufacturing and infrastructure sectors have been hard-hit. Agriculture growth has slowed down to 1.8% in June from 2.6% during the same quarter a year ago. Due to poor law and order situation and threats of insurgency and terrorism, growth of transport and tourism has decreased to 8.1% from 10% a year ago.India’s Current Account Deficit (CAD) was about $88 billion year-end.

Urjit Patel, the new Governor of the RBI, will hopefully take pragmatic and need-based action in view of the problems that the economy is encountering. Urjit Patel will not have any bias and prejudice. Sustainable and inclusive growth and employment of large young force are the need of the hour. Unemployed youth may fall prey to many undesired avenues and in the process destroy themselves and their families. Retail inflation reduced sharply to 5.05% in August. This might prompt the RBI Governor to the reduce rate of interest for the sake of growth and employment. The former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan had not followed the low interest rate based reforms, but high rates leading to slow growth, making reform painful. Urjit Patel has a hard task to keep the balance between growth and inflation in the national perspective.High rate of interest has been pushing industry to become a non-performing asset.

Sensex has risen up beyond the expectations of many.However, it tends to react negatively on fears of any possible Fed rate hike, despite best efforts by corporate sectors, sustained recovery is still far away and the input cost is low.However employee cost has arisen. IT and telecom sectors are no longer investor friendly. Reliance Jio offering has badly affected telecom companies.

BE had earlier reported that land in Singur had not been acquired properly and that it was not justified. BE had given the views that compensation and rehabilitation package must be (a) based not on the present market price, but on annuity valuation of 30 years yield, inflation and price rise in land due to development; b) 25% of value to be paid up-front, balance to be paid on lease rental for 99 years with renewal clause and incremental lease rent. So a farmer will have a continuous income; c) rehabilitation should be done first with proper packages, then vacate the land; d) certain percentage of the land to be given to the farmers in the commercial/residential area and e) no fertile and habitable land should be acquired.

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court of India ordered that the acquisition of land in Singur and other villages in West Bengal had not been done properly and the land should be returned to the farmers without returning the money they received. The judgment clearly lays down that the land cannot be acquired for a company or any private entity, unless “public purpose” is specifically declared.

From time immemorial, mankind has promoted itself and developed by traveling – whether it be business, pilgrimage, religion, family visits, education, and entertainment. For fulfilling spiritual quests and needs, inns were built by kings and philanthropists. Life pattern has been changing. People no longer want to stay with friends and relatives. They prefer to live in a hotel with a clean and comfort environment. In the USA and other countries, budget hotels and commercial inns have long been in operation. They are located quite frequently at distance of 100 km to 150 km each and many are near village and semi-urban areas. Many are in towns and near the railway stations and airports.

This trend is found in India, too. But gap in demand and supply is huge. Out of top 50 domestic destinations searched, only 30% of destinations represent budget hotel/ leisure travel. Demand for budget hotels rooms has been increasing.There will be an acute shortage of rooms. This will push up the rates of rooms. Corporates prefer to stay in their own guest houses. Executives and marketing teams are traveling to market their products in rural India. International tourism has great potential. Luxury segments had grown to meet the demand. Occupancy rate is 70-80% of the capacity. Almost all international hotel groups like Westin Holiday inns, Marriot and others have built up international standard hotels to cater to both international and domestic demand. They need to go to semi-urban areas.

With more than 300 million Indians using online facilities and the number is growing rapidly. Seizing the massive opportunities, several players are focused on online showcasing of good quality, budget accommodation across the country.Budget hotel industry will create great employment and will contribute to the country’s GDP immensely. Tax is almost 20% and in case of luxury hotels, it is substantially higher. The government needs to consider making such hotels affordable to the common people, who represent a large segment of the travellers. Land is a big issue. FSI is a limiting factor to make rooms available at affordable prices.

Some tea gardens are using their infrastructure and renovating it for tourism. Sick tea gardens can have an additional source of revenue through tourism. The government should provide funds for tourism development with special focus on affordable lodging with seven years moratorium. Law and order need to be improved. Risk to tourists is great. With speedy trials and justified need for capital punishment, only then violence against women can be stopped. Safe travel will promote tourism. International tourism will boost the GDP of the nation. All countries like China are promoting tourism in a big way.

The Nation must implement necessary reforms and take actions to facilitate infrastructure creation and safety of the people for sustainable and inclusive growth.



hpk

Dr H P Kanoria

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