Monday, December 24, 2007

Modi's back...

At around one yesterday when the scale of Modi's victory became apparent, I sent an SMS to a senior BJP (sort of) spokesperson related to me which was a simple 'Congratulations'. The reply, 'Thanks, I hope secularists learn some lessons'. But still this is not a time to be smug and point out to the english media at large that three successive good monsoons coupled with the fastest economic growth of any large state in India, the only state where the implementation of Special Economic Zones (SEZ's) has been without trouble, which, despite the fact that Modi withdrew free power from farmers, giving them a regular supply through the day instead, would mean that people are fairly happy.
Nope, Godhra had to be brought up, Tarun Tejpal had to chase some RSS cronies disillusioned by Modi's development talk and got them to blabber out lies. The look on Teesta's face yesterday has quite tragic honestly, but the fact of the matter is that even if you go around claiming that a 'particular community' is sinned against and 'ghettoised', their socio-economic indicators are the best in Gujarat and not in states where their 'political' interests are taken care of. Look, I did not want to watch NDTV or CNN-IBN harping on about this stuff, what they have done now is create a middle-class hero. Anyway, this post isn't going to try to make sense of the electoral thumping, but sound economic policy can win you elections. No matter what people say against Modi, spend some time in Gujarat and you will understand why Modi stormed back. OK, so the comb-over was a bad idea!
The problem with Modi coming back to power is going to be quite simple for many other parts of the country. Firstly, after shutting up the fringe loonies in the right-wing movement, the RSS cannot protest the possible clearance of alcohol sales in certain parts of Gujarat. Expect alcohol sales to be allowed in certain hotels very soon. This would make Ahmedabad a far more happening city, now that the riverfront work is almost done. But the biggest problem for the rest of India, and particularly Maharashtra and the southern states will be the lure of Gujarat. The new deep water ports in that state are going to seriously upset the apple-cart for many older businesses. Gujarat is building more shipping capacity than the rest of the country has, and while port development in the rest of the country is hamstrung by some protestor or the other, it has stormed through in Gujarat.
Five more years of Modi and Gujarat will become a gigantic SEZ! I don't pretend to know what will happen in 2009, but this poster-boy for the BJP could really help them, even though it is pretty certain that the BJP will lose Madhya Pradesh which has a clown in charge.


Anonymous said...
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thalassa_mikra said...

You're quite the Modi cheerleader aren't you :)?

Let me talk about the port sector, which is something I know about a bit.

You can build as many ports as you want, and really, a lot of international agencies like ADB, JICA and the OECD love to promote public-private port projects in developing countries. Gujarat port development has OECD and ADB written all over them (BOOT - classic development agency stuff). It's the same with Indonesia and Thailand.

However, I think it's absurd that in a country like India, where land-side infrastructure is mediocre in the best of circumstances, Gujarat is coming up with so many ports. There is no way they can drum up the investment to improve land-side connections for all these ports.

And given the fact they sold these ports for their potential to connect with the rest of India, not just Gujarat, claims of success are a bit rich to say the least.

Do people learn nothing from China? The port sector is consolidating not splitting up. You need fewer, bigger ports, with dedicated truck highways and freight-only rail.

Actually, forget China, just study what happened in Indonesia to see why a large number of smaller ports is never a good idea.

Of course, if you're a politician, then numerous smaller projects are a better deal than fewer big projects, because your payoffs are bigger for the former.

Anonymous said...

What amused me the most was the television coverage. Through the election campaign, all channels parachuted journalists from delhi, bombay and chennai who had absolutely no clue what the state was all about. It was almost laughable to see these jokers talk to 5 people and then say that it was a trend in the state. The exit polls were again a joke as they proved to be in the UP elections and well, reeking of their pro congress hopefulness. And even after the results when they'd again proved miserably wrong, it wasn't about the BJP winning, but about how congress lost and has to introspect. It amazes me everytime how channel heads can't get out of their little north indian cocoon and come to terms with the fact that each state in this country has a very distinct political landscape.

GBO said...

Landside for ports:-

a) Petroleum, gas and other silent products flow through piplelines.

b) Rail connectivity to Gujarat ports from the hinterland is curently between brilliant and superb. Especially when compared to connctivity for BPT/JNPT/Dighi/Goa.

c) And as for roads, please. Apart from the over-used Delhi-Mumbai toll road, there are two other main National Highways axii that move in an Easterly direction, which are superb. After going through Rajasthan, one links up with the BOM-DEL highway at Ajmer and the other one stays North and serves Punjab.


Large ports versus many small ports, please also look at Japan, not just Indonesia and China. Please also consider the kind of movements required to the emerging Africa.

Anonymous said...

Salman Khurshid gets my vote for wildest comment ever - "This election is a repudiation of Modi's politics because the BJP has lost 10 seats. What can you say to that." What can you say to that?
I wonder what will happen in Maharashtra as a direct result of the Gujarat elections?

thalassa_mikra said...

To answer GBO -

a) "Petroleum, gas and other silent products flow through pipelines"

Ha ha ha! I really don't know what to say to this. Please define "silent products".

b)Obviously we understand very different things by "brilliant" and "superb". Suffice to say I disagree with you.

c) GBO, I'm speaking specifically of immediate land-side connectivity, not the major arterials. You really spread your resources very thin with too many ports.

And with all due respect, Gujarat is no Japan. There are things that Japan does and can afford to do which do not make sense for a country like India. Of course that doesn't stop JBIC from using Japanese pension fund yens to push these kinds of projects all over Asia.

d) Another thing - I read about how one of these ports is post-Panamax ready and hopes to get a good share of liner container traffic. Whatever they're smoking, I don't think the likes of Maersk and Zim wouldn't be smoking the same dope.

It's quite simple really. Just because you build, doesn't mean they'll come.

I admire the chutzpah of the government and the businesses, but too much hinges on how the Indian economy turns in 2008. We live in interesting times.

thalassa_mikra said...

Sorry, what I meant to say was "Whatever they're smoking I do hope the likes of Maersk and Zim wouldn't be smoking the same dope"

thalassa_mikra said...

BTW, wasn't referring to the port of Pipavav which is actually run by APM The post-Panamax comment was about some other port (can't remember which one - no, not Mundra either).

GBO said...

"Silent products" - typically, over the ages and now also, are narcotics, human beings and arms/ammo. Go back into the history of any port and the commerce therein, and please see what I mean.

"Brilliant" and "Superb" within an Indian context. Please work the Rail Bhavan circuit.

And, more than anything else, we have a whole world of coastal shipping waiting, especially once the SethuSamudram channel is open to navigation, which will use these ports.

(Slightly related to your who will use the ports query . . . as on date India is probably the only country where coastal shipping requires International certification for vessels and crew (because we end up going round Sri Lanka) and which then adds to costs.)

ThalassaMikra, you are one of the few people on the internet who seem to understand Indian shipping. If nothing else, the lobbyists in Delhi beckon . . .

thalassa_mikra said...

GBO, I'm all ears. Who are these Delhi lobbyists that you speak of :)?

To be honest, I understand more of the US international trade, shipping and port sector and very little of Indian shipping. I'm trying to educate myself though.

By the way, who's trying to smuggle into India in a container? Surely the Chinese have been misled about India's economic potential!

And when will the Sethu Samudram project come through? Haven't our Rambhakts been up in arms over it? That will kill the Colombo port.

GBO said...

Start with Sher & Blackwell, since you are in the US! Serious.

Saw your profile and observed amongst other things that you have an interest in ports.

As on date most of Bangladesh, plenty of Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet &c &c are trying to smuggle into India. Add to that more of the hungry and unwashed, as well as persecuted, from the traditional Empty Quarter of the Saudi desert, and the Horn of Africa. Heck, would you believe Angolans, not just Nigerians?

Sethu Samudram is clicking away ahead of schedule. Nice nice little little pretty pretty girls from tv tv went with fat fat cameramen on fishing boats and spoke with tanned fishermen who sport underwear ad kind of abdomens and apparently both never came back so all is good with the world. Besides, the smarter Tamilians asked the RamBhakts to first knock down all the bridges spanning ("laid over") Mother Ganga . . . and that was that.

Shipping? India beckons.

thalassa_mikra said...

Are Bangladeshi et al trying to smuggle in via containers (which is what the Chinese do in the US and Europe - and die by the dozens)?

Actually for my money, it is Tamil Nadu that has the best growth potential in all of India. And with the Sethu Samudram and their Asia-Pacific facing location, they're really poised for a growth spurt. Not to forget all the high-end manufacturing.

Thanks for the Sher & Blackwell tip. Will check it out.