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August - September 2004


Business Forum

Indian Health Industry: Opportunity for Investment

Distinguished Members of the ILI Business Forum, Ladies & Gentlemen :It is indeed a matter of great delight as well as pleasure to be amongst such an enlightened group of the business-world and to be able to share a few important points of view on the new face of India as also the avenues available to the perceiving investors in the ever - growing Health-sector.

As we all know , the Indian Electorate has once again displayed its power of public-opinion and the vibrant democracy that the great Nation is : resurgence and resilience have been the watchwords of Indian Democracy and we now have the 'father-of-modern-India's-economy' ,viz; Dr.Manmohan Singh at the helm of affairs of the Central Government in India as the Prime Minister …and, with the able Mr.P.Chidambaram as the Finance Minister; the experienced Mr.Pranab Mukherjee as the Defence Minister ; Mr.Shivraj Patil as the Home Minister and the affable & well-experienced Mr.Natwar Singh as the External Affairs Minister , the new Cabinet is bound to instill an enormous amount of confidence amongst the general public within India as well as amongst the comity of nations, the world over!

Having said this, I would like to draw your attention to the finding that India has achieved a significant improvement in the Health-sector and spends about INR 103,000 crores upon health-care now. The public infrastructure is large, especially in the rural areas but interesting is the fact that despite this, most rural Indians flock to the private-providers of health-care located in urban regions for their health-care needs,the reason attributed to this preference being a better-availability & the perceived better-quality of services available there!

At current utilization-rates, 750,000 extra beds will be needed to meet the increased demand for in-patient treatment . Thus, an automatic increase in the need for beds and skilled manpower will increase significantly . India thus needs huge investments in the Health-care sector over the next decade . A study made on the Hospital morbidity & mortality pattern revealed that major disease - groupings are of the following types -

* Infective & parasitic diseases * Neoplasms * Endocrine ,nutritional & metabolic diseases * Diseases of blood & blood-forming organs * Mental disorders * Diseases of the nervous system & sense organs * Diseases of the circulatory system * Diseases of the respiratory system * Diseases of the digestive system * Diseases of the genito-urinary system * Diseases of the skin & subcutaneous tissue * Complications of pregnancy & child-birth * Diseases of muscular & skeletal system and the connective-tissue * Congenital anomalies * Accidents , poisoning & violence .

The manpower-statistics, i.e. the number of doctors ,nurses, dentists,social ,community & para-medical workers and midwives would automatically reflect the increased demand for these categories of personnel to man all the increased number of hospital - beds, facilities and amenities . As per the last census of India in 2001 , the sex-ratio is 933 females per 1000 males while the density of population is 324 .

Thus, to the mind of a discerning investor in the Health-care sector in India, this is fantastic news for here is a large market-base awaiting large investments and the demand for qualitative health-care services is readily available ..in fact, there is a crying need to set up hospitals of varying sizes, types & bed-capacities across the length & breadth of this vast country which has become aware of the 'good-health' factor as well as the 'wellness-syndrome' which has beset the rest of the modern world - a fact reflected in the that India now spends about 5% of its GDP on Health-care in comparison to about 5 - 7 % spent by other developing countries!

Fortunately for Investors , all is not bleak as it used to seem before since the overall economic growth now is on a roll ; foreign exchange reserves are overflowing and consumer-spending is booming …Incidentally, the Indian Economy grew by a better-than expected 10.4 % in Oct. -- Dec. 2003 ,outstripping China and putting the country into the league of fastest growing economies globally …For many people, especially the New Investors, both domestic & foreign , the new Prime Minister & the new Finance Minister's presence in the Government in such sensitive posts of policy-making is a positive signal and they are all certainly looking forward to his budget-proposals

For Friends of India living abroad & Indians living within Indian borders too, this is a day of new beginnings.. We have before us all for the first time in 50 years , the possibility to realize the full potential of our relationship : I am sure we will work to seize that chance , for our benefit and all those with whom we share this increasingly interdependent world …. The currents of commerce & culture that link our societies run strong & deep so much so that in many ways , the character of the 21st century world would depend on the success of our co-operation for peace, prosperity ,democracy ,freedom as well as good health …This certainly presents us with not only an opportunity but also a profound responsibility to work together ..For, our partnership of shared-ideals leads us to seek a mutual partnership of shared endeavors …

This indeed is the right time to take advantage of the investment opportunities - this is not just in the interest of India ; this is not a bid to try to sell India Inc….we talk on equal - terms …e talk about mutual benefits ..let us be partners in the economic progress & prosperity that India offers in the globalization of the Indian Health -Industry …We have several compelling pluses in India : We have a thriving democracy which very few countries enjoy ..you surely won't find the roots of democracy as deep in either Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines or China …!!….We have a well-established legal - system in India .Perhaps, a few might complain of an overdose of Law but at least you will enjoy the feeling of security ,of your rights & privileges …Then, you have the advantage of a large population , a large market ( other than China, no one can come near us ,in terms of potential market - size.

The full article is available in the print edition.

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