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New Age Infrastructure for a Better-Connected Planet…India has the ambition to make it work


We hear so much about Public Infrastructure Projects these days, but why do they matter, and what should we look out for? Let me offer you an example from history… so that we can get a handle on the issues.
Back in the 1960s, you could jump on a bus from Kolkata (still Calcutta in those days, with the sun, finally setting on Britain's Empire) and ride that bus to London in relative (and often absolute) discomfort. It was the World's longest and most laborious bus route, and it took three and a half months to complete from start to finish. It wasn't cheap either: a single ticket cost £145, enough to financially cripple the average Indian household (and most British families too). And those roads the Albert Bus lumbered uneasily along were entirely responsible for the journey's huge delays and extravagant cost. But there was no point bleating or complaining: because there wasn't any real alternative for the average Javid in Kolkata…still less the local merchant community. 
Suppose the average Indian merchant wanted to ship a truckload of cotton from Kolkata to Kent in 1969. In that case, he (less often than she in those dark days, I'm afraid) would have to use the same tortured route as the Albert Bus did: although, by driving through the night, our hypothetical merchant might hope his drivers could cut the journey time down to three months (at risk of life and limb). Of course, he could always go round the Cape to Tilbury, but that would take four months (plus a two-week, equally hair-raising journey to Mumbai added in for good measure) …so it wasn't any choice at all.
You don't need to look too closely at all this to realise the logistics of those beige-tinted times, lived out before the Beatles went their separate ways, were more than enough to make Britain's current post-Brexit ambitions seem childishly simplistic.
So what exactly changed between 1969 and now?  A resurgence in Public Infrastructure Projects, that's what: new highways, new railways, and a booming trade in containerisation (the current sailing time between Mumbai and Felixstowe is just a shade over 29 days); and with containerisation came India's new container ports and its associated state of the art logistics. Mumbai now has a space-age monorail, and so does Chennai… later this year, you can fly to London from the newly refurbished Terminal One at Delhi Airport in less than ten hours (quite frankly, beating the hell out of the Albert Bus: even if it was still running…which it isn't). The new Terminal One will double the existing passenger capacity from 20 Million to 40 Million a year. A "smart apron" will increase overall aircraft capacity from fifty-five to eighty-two.

New Age Connectivity

As you've probably guessed by now (the examples are an obvious giveaway), public Infrastructure is all about connectivity these days. In our shiny new digital age, connectivity makes the World go round. India's new infrastructure projects are just some of the jewels in the crown of the subcontinent's economic future, and the Nation that develops its Infrastructure better and faster, as India does, will inevitably find itself at the leading edge of global markets.
So, taking everything as it was and is, we've come a long way since that first Albert bus chugged out of Kolkata…the World is now holding its breath for what comes next.


Executive Overview

Public Infrastructure has become something of a buzzword these days. Still, it's a buzzword for a reason…nothing could be more important for sustainable economic growth in ever more connected times.



Red Ribbon India Real Estate Fund

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Red Ribbon India Real Estate Fund is a multi asset class closed-end fund registered in Luxembourg offering investors the opportunity to participate in Growth and Emerging Markets and Mainstream Impact Investments, such as India, that offer returns rarely available in western markets.

Suchit Punnose

Suchit Punnose / About Author

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