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BW Businessworld

Pink City Beckons

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Even three centuries after Sawai Jai Singh II asked Bengali architect Vidyadhar Bhattacharya to build a modern architecture for business, Jaipur lives up to the maharaja's expectations. The pink city has evolved into a business centre of reckoning, offering a mix of traditional and modern ventures — from handicrafts and hospitality to IT and BPO.

IT giants such as Wipro, Genpact, Tech Mahindra and Infosys have set up shop in both the IT special economic zone (SEZ) and the Mahindra World City, India's largest integrated business zone, in Jaipur. Several traditional handicraft export houses and ornament-makers have also set up units in the city. It also houses units making aluminum conductors, reinforced steel cables, auto parts, edible oil, corrugated boxes, engineering and manufacturing products, granite and marble slabs, plastics, furniture and steel ingots.

Jaipur also boasts of a robust tourism industry. "This is what our history has taught us. We could go pink welcoming (visitors), and keep our culture with the every business deal we do," says Vikram Singh, who runs a handloom export business in the city. The government says its recent focus on micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has fuelled growth. About 50 large industrial enterprises and 20,000 small-scale units operate in Jaipur. To cater to their needs, the administration has developed 19 industrial parks in and around the city.

Jaipur is growing, but its hot climate and the lack of a lucrative industrial policy hamper business development in the city. Many areas in Rajasthan lack water and electricity, according to Pradeep K. Dhingra, a Delhi-based chartered accountant. "The state government provides few incentives for big players to move in there," says Dhingra. "The government may have policies for SMEs, but it needs to come up with a clear industrial policy like Tamil Nadu and Gujarat did." A few of Dhingra's clients have business interests in the city. "The corruption level is low there, and the permission and licensing system works faster than many other Indian cities,'' adds Dhingra.

A recent study by the Ministry of Urban Development says Jaipur's slow traffic is lagging behind cities such as Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Patna, Nagpur and Kanpur. The report, however, says Jaipur's roads are less stressed than in many other urban pockets in the country. Still, Jaipur is way below global standards. It doesn not even an effective public transport system to reduce the rush on the roads.

580 phones per 1,000 people, 10% families have computers, 137 registered companies; 31 days needed to start a business; 24 days to register a property; construction permits take 151 days; 12 procedures to start a business

Source: The BW-Institute for Competitiveness India City Competitiveness Report 2009

Officials say funds are plentiful. "Seeing Jaipur's growth, various international banks have started branches in the city," says a senior government official. Jaipur has 380 branches of various banks; 58.3 per cent households have savings accounts, while deposits stood at Rs 24,334 crore last fiscal.

About 95 per cent of the city households have electricity connections. And with a 1.78 million workforce, this erstwhile princely state is gainfully armed for further growth. Jaipur is in the pink of health.

anilesh(dot)mahajan(at)abp(dot)in

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 05-10-2009)