India’s complicated infrastructure story
The boom in the sector over the last decade led to mistakes of excess and reckless optimism that have come home to roost
It was in early 2004 that the State Bank of India posted me to the strategic business unit (SBU) for project finance. The mission was to set up a number of project appraisal teams which would help the bank capture the upcoming large financing opportunities in the infrastructure sector as also greenfield industrial projects. This was a time when the reforms unleashed from 1991 onwards, as also the investment direction shown by the Rakesh Mohan Committee, started to show up in the form of sustained high GDP (gross domestic product) growth rates averaging CAGR (compound annual growth rate) 8.5%. The media was full of catchy headlines about the India story, the India century, India versus China, India’s imminent entry into the ranks of the global A-listers, the future belonging to the Brics nations and so on.