Indian Economy

AN EDUCATED POPULATION IS THE NATION’S GREATEST ASSET: KAPIL SIBAL
The Economic Times

If there’s one sector that’s at the cusp of massive growth, it’s education. According to an Ernst & Young study on the higher education sector in India, spends on higher education stand at Rs 46,200 crore. The growth rate for this segment is projected at 12.8% and is expected to touch nearly Rs 150,000 crore in the coming decade, the report says. Right from kindergarten to PG, there is an influx of players who are looking to create a niche through various marketing and branding initiatives. In an exclusive with ER, Union Minister for Human Resource Ddevelopment, Kapil Sibal , dwells on the role of private sector in the education space and how an education brand should be marketed as ‘a social or a public good’.

What role can private sector play in enhancing quality in education? What according to you is the best example of public-private sector cooperation you have seen in the education sector?

Let me at the outset place a few facts for you to clarify the issues involved. We all recognize that an educated population is the nation’s greatest asset. The government has accordingly set the goal to achieve near universalization (100% enrollment and attendance) for primary education, enhance the gross enrollment ratio in secondary education from 50% to 75% and in higher education from 13% to 30% within this decade. The task is unprecedented in the annals of human history and beyond the capacity of either the government or private sector alone.

We thus need both government and private players to work with each other in a synergistic and symbiotic relationship rather than in an antagonistic mode. The government has the advantage of existing infrastructure, credibility and scale, whereas private sector is innovative, dynamic and has a strong management culture. Private sector can thus help to bring in competitive merit and to force periodical changes in curriculum, pedagogy, delivery mechanisms, examination system remuneration and governance across the entire educational sector.

One measure to harness the strengths of both is through government-owned private managed educational institution albeit with pre-specified conditionalities, including outcomes and performance. Several successful examples of such co-operation are there in the vocational education sector.

With the huge demand for education across levels—from pre-primary to post-graduate—education is being marketed aggressively. What do you think of this trend?
Today most private sector players treat education as any other product to be packaged and marketed as a ‘private good’, however I would like to consider it to be a ‘social or a public good’ and thus to be marketed appropriately and responsibly.

Real Estate News

VERTICAL CONSTRUCTION: THE CHANGING SKYLINE OF INDIA
Indian Express

The recent real estate boom and urbanization witnessed by metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad and smaller cities like Ahmedabad have contributed to the trend of vertical construction. India is now touted to be the next hub for tall buildings and high-rise structures due to high density and smaller building footprints offered by Indian cities. “India is on a vertical quest”- this is a quote from an article by a leading national newspaper which highlights the major developers efforts to make skyscrapers a reality in India.

With 50% of India’s population expected to live in the urban areas by 2030 resulting in lack of space, constructing tall buildings is inevitable. However, there are several challenges concerning regulatory guidelines and Floor Space Index (FSI) norms that restrict the construction of high-rise structures in India. Due to the increasing relevance of such high-rise structures in India, major developers, designers and construction companies in the country feel the need to relax the FSI norms and clearance procedures.

Infrastructure

WIDTH OF NATIONAL HIGHWAYS PASSING THROUGH PUNJAB TO BE EXPANDED FROM 7 METERS TO 10 METERS
The Pioneer

The minimum width of the national highways passing through Punjab would be increased from the national norm of 7 metres to 10 metres, keeping in view the increased vehicular traffic in the State. Union Surface Transport Ministry has agreed to the proposal of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who recently met Union Minister Kamal Nath with a detailed proposal in this regard.

Reviewing the progress of ongoing road projects in the State, Deputy Chief Minister Badal informed that the Government has set apart `171 crore to execute expansion of all National Highways and it would be completed by June 2011. Badal said that similar exercise was also being taken for State highways based on the report of traffic police regarding density of traffic.

Information Technology

25% OF 2010 INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SPEND WAS FROM FIRST TIME OUTSOURCERS
The Economic Times

BANGALORE: While the global economic downturn saw some big buyers of technology reducing their spends, it also bought about greater acceptance for outsourcing, bringing in a large number of first time outsourcers in the fold. At least a fourth of the total technology spending in 2010 is expected to have come from these first-time outsourcers who farmed out services to mostly Indian players as cost reduction and driving efficiency became imperative. According to market research firm Datamonitor, on an average, IT services outsourcing results in savings of 15-20% for customers.

Fast food giant McDonald’s, chemical major BASF, publishing firm Reader’s Digest Association and Fonterra were some companies that outsourced work for the first time. “Pressure on growing revenues and profits has resulted in companies looking for optimum solutions to lower their cost of operations, increase profitability and improve efficiencies,” says Ramchandra Naik, practice leader, company and market intelligence, Datamonitor India .

Retail Sector

RETAIL BUSINESS IS GROWING NOT ONLY BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE BUYING, THEY ARE BUYING MORE
Daily News India

The retail industry in India has seen some of the wildest swings during the past decade. Three years ago, retail was the biggest business opportunity for any entrepreneur.Almost every major industrialist jumped into this sector with mouth-watering plans.

Then came the slump, and when the waters receded, as Warren Buffet would have put it, some of the players were found to have been swimming naked. The economic meltdown, the bursting of the real-estate balloon, and the exposure of fanciful projects in the harsh media glare hurt the industry and it became the whipping boy.

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