The Auto Expo 2014 has gotten off to a flying start. And the rush of exciting new models that were launched over the last two days could actually help get customers back into the showrooms. Automotive shows, globally, are known to revive sentiments. As Murad Ali Baig recently wrote in his column in this newspaper, “The prophets of doom tend to paint gloomy pictures but a slightly sagging growth rate does not mean disaster.” And the same holds true for the Indian automobile industry. The auto industry, as the country’s largest manufacturing industry, reflects the general state of the Indian economy where an economic slowdown plus political uncertainty has lowered the production growth of passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles, though two-wheelers have seen growth. As the author pointed out, one must not forget that automobile production is still huge in India. And at the current rate, India will produce over 3 million passenger vehicles, 700,000 commercial vehicles and 17 million two-wheelers this year, of which about 17% will be exported. These have a huge impact on India’s employment and overall economy. Automakers should now focus more on new markets within the country, which still hold some promise. In fact, last year we had abundant monsoon rains and this certainly will lead to more prosperous rural markets and, in turn, better small car and two-wheeler sales. Another good news is that India is becoming one of the major global export hubs for small cars, and that will further lead to economic growth. Although reviving the auto industry is not a day's or a show's job, the Auto Expo couldn't have come at a better time. One must also keep in mind that if the next general elections produce a stable government, the industry will definitely grow.
Apropos of the editorial “Medical tourism” (The Financial Express, February 5), India shouldn't squander this opportunity. The total addressable global health tourism market, according to a report in your newspaper, is $150 billion, yet India gets barely a billion or so. What is surprising is that India gets even lesser medical tourists than the city-state Singapore. Among other things, India should make its restrictive visa regime simpler. Although private hospitals are taking the lead in India, even the government hospitals should realise the opportunity.