I just returned from 10 days trip to Delhi and Mumbai. In Delhi, the temperature was 44 Degrees Celsius. I was pleasantly surprised that everything works as usual. Mumbai seems to be a city in decay. It was season of mangoes and one can never go wrong with Indian mangoes.
After elections, mood is vibrant. Cong-I, the ruling party has appointed a very good (capable and mostly honest) government and Sonia Gandhi is driving them hard.
Visited Aman in Delhi. Aman has some of the most luxurious resorts in the world. http://www.amanresorts.com/ . Very good new property in middle of Delhi. They completely rebuilt a government owned hotel. ( Many of you might be surprised that Indian government was running hotels too. )
Private equity players are still very bullish and there is lot of money chasing opportunities. Lot of action in sectors including manufacturing, power, agriculture, education and automation of public services.
Real estate is hurting and there are some good deals in the market. I visited one of my real estate investments in India. Good property but looks like 5-10 years before I gain in a major way. I do not plan to invest in Indian real-estate. It is a not a very liquid asset.
Rupee may get stronger as foreign direct investment would increase in next few quarters.
Visited two of the largest Telecom operators in India (and now in the world). Bharti (http://www.bharti.com/ ) and Reliance (http://www.relianceadagroup.com/). Was amazed at their scale, application of technology, hunger and new business model involving outsourcing.
I also had a chance to meet a young company in education segment (http://www.careerlauncher.com/) . Impressive team. They are building schools, incubation centers and what not.
New Delhi Domestic airport and Mumbai International airport, both have been renovated and offer great facilities, similar to any other international airport. Internet is good and coffee is great.
On negative side, infrastructure is improving at very slow pace and bureaucracy hurts. Appointments, 30-60 minutes variance is quite normal.
Some cultural changes in business life : People are getting comfortable with early morning (that is 8:30 AM) breakfast meetings. People are getting direct in communication. SMS is all pervasive.
On my business interests, my portfolio companies are doing well and I am surprised at their growth and opportunities. If one has good team in India, it is a land of opportunity. Like every other place, it is all about people. One needs to be patient and exit may not be that easy.
Last but not the least, Lufthansa First Class Lounge in Frankfurt is serving Indian food under the brand name “Budha”. Not a surprise with so many Indians in the lounge. Budha must be laughing / crying after seeing the menu which was full of non-vegetarian food.