1. Politics to dominate
Internal politics will dominate India with a general election due in May 2019. The Modi Government won in 2014 with a slogan of “good days are coming” but higher inflation, declining rural incomes and lack of jobs are all hitting government prospects, while the big unknown is the huge number of “first time” voters – India has 20 million young people turning 18 each year which means there will be around 100 million first time voters.
Modi has so far appealed strongly to young voters. However, state elections show that the Indian voter is now harder to predict. Most predict Modi will be returned but with a reduced majority. But when the world’s biggest democracy votes, politics becomes the theme of the year.
2. Trade deals point to stronger region
India has a growing number of trade deals that place it at a point of influence in the Indo-Pacific Region and there is a growing prospect of countries such as India, Indonesia and Australia leading a stronger Indian Ocean grouping. Of significance is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP (a trade alliance currently in negotiation among 16 countries in Asia and Oceania) which India could join in 2019 – perhaps a long shot but one to watch.
3. Fashion, weddings and pride
National pride has been growing (some call it Hindu pride, but it seems broader) and so we can expect Indian fashion, traditions and weddings to be bigger than ever – the wedding planning industry will be booming but fashion and festivals not far behind. The trend in India is to combine modernity with preservation of the past – a great balancing act. Another result is that well placed local brands – if marketed well – will attract huge consumer interest. And any year now the west will become very interested in “all things Indian” which is good news for Indian fashion, music, films and dance.
4. Economy and shares to grow
Despite trade and currency wars slowing global growth, Moody’s and others predict continuing Indian economic growth and shares to remain buoyant for 2019. However, keep in mind shares have been booming – the Nifty 50 Index (the largest 50 stocks in India) rose from 7000 points at the end of 2015 to 11,750 points in September 2018. That is a growth of 57% in the market in just three years. It seems the psychological touch point is 10,500 for the Nifty – above that and shareholders will have a good year. Below that and watch out.
5. Business opportunities abound
Healthcare for India has got to be one of the world’s biggest business opportunities with massive growth prospects for healthcare clinics and online service delivery. When you consider 60% of the people are rural but 80% of healthcare is urban (and not meeting demand there) so there will be a big rural boost. Agribusiness is strong with specific areas to watch – dairy, butter/ghee, strawberries, button mushrooms, salad supplies and alternative production such as hydroponics on urban fringes. But really, growth opportunities are everywhere as domestic demand soars – tourism (domestic and global) and education (including western immersion tours for Indian uni students) are top growth areas.
6. Energy up
India is a global leader in investment in alternative energy and this will gain ground with solar, wind and biomass to surge ahead. All of which makes the proposed and controversial Adani coal mine in Australia more of a mystery.