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India managers express fears over obstacles to growth
by Amy Williams on Jul 27, 2010 at 07:31
Even though the hype surrounding Indian growth seems as widespread as ever, some leading fund managers in the country fear the obstacles to the emerging giant's progress are being underestimated.
Sashi Reddy is co-manager of the First State Indian Subcontinent Fund , one of the top performers in the sector. Despite his fund's success, he has reservations about the speed at which India's economy can grow.
'In principle I agree with the long-term growth story but the problem I have with it is that getting 500 million people into the workforce is an uphill struggle. It’s a huge task in terms of job creation.'
'There is a chance that this won’t happen in ten years. It is also a huge issue for the country in terms of risk which could manifest itself in many forms including social unrest.'
Mumbai based Manish Shah of Sunman Investment Advisors, an advisor for the Comgest Growth India fund, is also sceptical on the job prospects for India’s aspiring middle class.
'The population has to be employable, they have to have skills. At the moment the schools are quite poor. It starts with education, then it is about creating jobs for them.'
The government has allocated spending to the education sector but Shah says that this is happening at an “Indian pace.” Which he says is 'a lot slower than many investors would expect.'
Adrian Lim, senior investment manager for the Asia Pacific (ex Japan) equity team at Aberdeen Asset Management is more upbeat on the issue, describing the job market as “vibrant”.
According to Lim most young people enter into the services industries such as banking and insurance. The more traditional manufacturing and relatively new software engineering routes are also popular choices.
Daniel Tenengauzer, co-head of global emerging markets fixed income strategy and economics at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research is not convinced by the hype surrounding India. 'Compared to the rest of Asia, India is not the best story.'
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