India and the (lighting) economy
Singapore 31st August 2011
The last day of August already…you may have noticed I was of the radar for a few days, courtesy of some public holiday, long weekend in Singapore. I took the opportunity to escape to Bangkok for a few days for a bit of “us” time. Though I have been to Bangkok quite regularly, it is always airport-hotel-meeting- dinner-hotel airport kind of thing without really taking time out to do the typical tourist things. So we caught up on that…an enjoyable few days of relaxing without computer!
Before I left I had an interesting meeting with a potential new client from India who happened to visit Singapore. While we discussed the project brief and (lighting) design direction (the architect was present as well) our discussion also drifted off towards the current state of the economy specifically in India. We have quite a number of projects in India in our books but at least half of them are either on hold, shelved or moving at extreme low speed. So with the obvious looming of a new recession I was curious to get his take on projects and the economy in India, as I am seeing a clear slowdown happening in our lighting projects.
The main issue that emerged from the discussion is that many projects in India are indeed on hold as the government has ordered a review of approvals of all the building projects currently in process (and these are a lot!). While some clients may not bother to mention this to the project team it would explain a lot. With Mr Harare just ending his 12 day fast in Delhi in protest against the anti-corruption bill, which in his opinion did not go far enough to include the politicians and government as well, the picture becomes a bit clearer. There are many corruption and fraud cases going on in India (2G scam, land scam, Commonwealth scam, etc) just read the daily paper when you are in India.
As it appears many building approvals (specifically for high rise buildings) that have been obtained by eager developers are now being reviewed and scrutinised to make sure they comply with the “law”. It seems many have been obtained on doubtful grounds. A crackdown seems eminent! I am just conveying what I was told and have no direct way to confirm the authenticity, but considering the slow down I am experiencing in India it does make sense. I have no reason not to believe him as he is a big
time developer himself. He assured me his project is not affected.
In Light Watch today a few pictures from real simple lighting caught on my market rounds in Bangkok over the weekend . When the going gets tough the tough gets going, right? If there is really no more budget we can go back to the simple bare bulb…who needs a lighting designer :)?