Thursday, March 20, 2008

No Panic Stations yet!

My blog has been left untended for the last 25 days or so. Ah, not an excuse but I had actually been busy doing the shift from Pune to Mumbai and the shift in paradigm, from my old job as a Business Head of an Entertainment company to a new job that looks at Urban Developments, an amalgamation of Retail, Entertainment and Leisure!
Well, the shift is complete and I have steadily settled down to my usual play all round the wicket, as they say! Land acquisition to Pioneering Developments, have to do all in between and more. That brings me to an important question. Is India ready for such galactic progress in Urban zones?

Why I ask so?
1. Our Urban zones are still populated by the very poor and the very rich. The middle class is..well..still in the middle, I do not yet find them hugely aspirational or risk taking. In fact, they have been pretty sceptical of the progress even while they surreptiously take part in it. Some sectors have done well, need based but I'll give that - Telecom, Infra, White goods, FMCG, Media, etc. As the middle class is, wants to wear good clothes, put on decent fashions, eat the right stuff, carry the right phone, see the right channels, save well and use money judiciously, we have seen the Business boom in those sectors who cater to such basic needs. But, Lifestyle and Entertainment still rank pretty low and Our BIG Developm ents may have to stretch limbs to catch this middle class without which we are actually done for!
2. Urban roads and Transport are a concern and very few cities are able to address that very correctly. Our developments may depend on them for succor.
3. People to service these Lifestyle Developments - where do we find them? These sectors are still considered as non serious sectors in the minds of Parents, Teachers and the youth themselves. So, quality people are not to be found in a hurry. So, I have to confront a YSL seller who cannot pronounce the "Yves St. Laurent" correctly. How is it gonna sell?
4. Paucity of Thought Leaders in Retail and Realty sectors - So, we have the same Anchor Stores, Multiplex and Vanilla shops peeking at us from various nooks of the same city!!

These are Destinations and have to be propelled as Tourism ventures with the potent mix of Fun, Film, Food, Fashion and Finesse. Customers, who when coming in have to be looped in with enticing and compelling "Stay" reasons.

But, glad that we are all starting to give primacy to that customer. A day shall come when we shall have the Password to his heart and mind too!

The Sensex is down. Liquidity has been sucked out of the market. Funders are pretty much wary of putting their money where their mouth is. Land prices are showing no signs of touching Mother Earth. This is not a pretty picture. But, no Panic Stations yet, we live in hope and make the best of what we have now!!

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