There has been a lot of talk since Narendra Modi came to power about the possibility of GST (Goods and Services Tax) being implemented. The general consensus is that GST will help pan-India trade among other things such as simplicity and transparency for inter-state transactions. Therefore, this week I thought I’d include an update on this front, especially as PM Modi is still hopeful the bill will be passed this year. Within the same article you will also see why, as the Indian PM, he believes he has thus far managed positive change.
In a follow-on to the first piece above, I wanted to delve a little deeper into what has been achieved and indeed what has not, in the two years since Narendra Modi has been in office. Positives include attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and a number of schemes launched to help GDP growth. One of the main focus areas has been infrastructure including roads, railways, power, and also (of course) technology through Smart Cities, Digital India, and Start-Up India (although the latter is not mentioned). Add to this the financial inclusion drive across India and the transition towards cashless payment systems suggests a longer term benefit for all. I will let you read the detail but let me just say there is also great optimism a normal monsoon will reap the benefit to the larger economy.
A common discussion point among those part of the Start-Up scene in India has been around valuations and how they have been coming down due to the global correction taking place. This, of course, is good news for investors like Earlsfield Capital. However, what has this meant for those working in this vibrant and dynamic space? One thing I can tell you for sure is that not only are investors tightening the purse strings but so are businesses themselves. As top talent continues to be attracted the packages being offered as well as year on year upticks are becoming more realistic and therefore unquestionably will only help businesses sustain for longer. With this presumable change in mindset, without doubt, this has to be a good sign for investors.
Let me ask you a question – what do you think will help ‘Digital India’ get connected? It’s not a trick question – the answer is, of course, the internet. Although initiatives like Internet.org would certainly have helped, it seemed there may have been ulterior motives there. That’s why when I read about Google’s Project Loon I was a little in the pessimistic camp. However, on the surface it certainly seems this is being done for the right reasons. If this ultimately proves to be the case it could make a huge difference to all those Indian’s living in remote areas. Thereafter, let’s just think of the possibilities for India longer term with Facebook also exploring solar powered drones and Microsoft looking at ‘TV white space’ transmissions (when both of these eventually get to India).
Once again, I would like to sign off by sharing a couple of technology stories that really excited me this week. Namely, Google’s new smartphone killer. A modular device allowing users to pick and choose components for a phone on the fly. Don’t know about you but this reminds me of when I was a kid in a sweet shop! As the article points out, Google didn’t actually come up with the idea (credit goes to a Dutch Designer Dave Hakkens), however, much like we say to our portfolio companies – it’s all about execution! And as we all know Google aren’t too bad in this department.
The second and more impressive in my humble opinion is India’s testing of their indigenously developed reusable space rocket. That’s a bit of a mouthful but let me just say other nations (and companies – Space X, obviously) are working on developing similar technology. What’s most impressive is the budgets India are managing to compete in the space race. Still nascent in its development but a very famous animated movie line definitely comes to mind…
Author: Dishang Patel