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Luxury Boating Industry in India

In ancient times, India was well known for its prosperity, education and science. The Portuguese arrived in India in 1498 to trade spices. In the 1600s, the Dutch, the French and the English followed and set up their own trading centers in the country. The British East India Company was very aggressive in expanding their trade, and soon started trading in many commodities, such as cotton, silk, salt, opium, and tea. The Company had its own private army to protect their trading posts. This resulted in conflicts between the local rulers in India and the British East India Company. The British government sent a larger force to India and provided funding to expand the Indian British army. Soon the British were not just traders, but became the rulers of India, and were creating more revenue by taxing the locals. By 1819, the British were in control of almost all of India.

As trade grew, the British had to build India’s infrastructure to move their armies and goods efficiently. After a long struggle for freedom, India finally regained her independence in 1947, when the British left India. India used her freedom to opt for democracy, but was soon suffering under heavy corruption and national power struggles. One of the biggest challenges that India was faced with, was the many languages and different religious castes that divides society. Politicians had to put all their energy and power to use just to keep the country united. Many states wanted their own freedom based on their religion, language and their geographical location. During this time the development of industry and infrastructure in India was very poor. Even today, although India is one of the largest economies in the world, poverty is still a huge problem. But considering this from a different point of view, this also presents a great economic opportunity for India.

India has been growing steadily since the year 2000. Unfortunately, for many years the government was infamous for corruption, scams and misuse of public funds. In 2014, the people of India voted the corrupt government out of office. The new government, elected in 2014, is more focused on development of infrastructure, tax reforms to attract foreign investments and create industries, and shortening long bureaucratic procedures to make it easier for people to set up businesses. The government is also intent on making India the biggest manufacturing hub in the world. There are also plans to transform 100 existing cities to high-tech smart cities by rebuilding their infrastructure, using renewable energy to create power, and making use of the internet to provide services. India’s luxury market has also been growing significantly since the year 2000. There are all sorts of expensive luxury cars on the roads, the automobile industry is growing, and shopping malls bearing big brands are cropping up in all major cities. The cost of living is not cheap anymore. Real estate prices in Mumbai for example, which is known as the financial hub of India, are amongst the most expensive in the world.

According to Forbes in 2015 India ranks fifth in the world for having the largest number of billionaires, 90. The number of millionaires in India was around 182,000 in 2014 and is expected to grow up to 50% by 2019. India’s major economic sector in 2014 was the service sector, which mainly comprises of the I.T. industry and outsourced call centers for banks and airlines around the world. India’s manufacturing sector is also one of its main contributors to the economy, for example manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, textiles, automobiles and machinery. Other significant sectors are mining, of raw materials such as iron and copper, and agriculture. India has made a conscious effort to move the focus of the economy from agricultural to industrial. India’s service sector is comparatively new and employs mainly the young and educated. This sector has greatly increased the rate of growth of the educated middle class in India. The country is experiencing consistent growth in the high-tech industry and the wealth of the middle class is increasing due to more technological innovation. What this means for the boating industry, is that India has a potentially large market for speed boats and inexpensive yachts for the adventurous youth of India. The country is also surrounded by beautiful waters along its more than 7500 km coastline, with a huge ocean for the locals to enjoy.

What has held India back is not just the slow development of infrastructure, but also corruption within the government, leading to the development of the wrong type of infrastructure, which does not benefit the public. India’s bureaucracy also makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to set up businesses. Other problems such as crime and constant religious conflict have also resulted in a brain drain. Many of India’s educated workers such as doctors, scientists and engineers have left the country to settle in the USA, Europe and other developed countries. Many have achieved huge successes overseas, which they would not have been able to achieve in India’s system.

As for boating industry, there is enough visible wealth in India for the industry to flourish, but the previous government never really paid any attention to it. It was as if they didn’t care about or understand this industry at all. Tax on private yachts is in India is currently 48.7%, and to make matters worse, there is not a single decent marina club to be found in the whole country. Over the past few years a few companies have struggled to achieve success in the pleasure yacht industry, but they have not been given any kind of support from the authorities, or provided with assistance in setting up infrastructure. Some companies have built a small private marina club facility in the southern part of India, but it is nowhere near the international standard. The pleasure boating industry also suffers because there are not enough private yachts in the country to provide enough profit for companies to survive.

Having said that, the underdeveloped boating infrastructure of the country also provides potential for larger growth. If the government starts taking the industry seriously, encourages the private sector to develop marina clubs, and provides space and assistance for small enterprises to set up their facilities, the boating industry in India can achieve rapid growth. India’s authorities also need to understand that the country needs a new industry such as boating to create employment, generate revenue and to diversify the economy.

Some of India’s car manufacturers have dabbled with boat manufacturing but on a very small scale. The good news is that the government that was elected in 2014 is very interested in creating a better economy and has proved to be more active than the previous government. They are also interested in adjusting its taxation system to create a business-friendly environment, and like Indonesia, they are trying to set up automated, transparent online systems to grant licenses to individuals to set up businesses. This could be a very positive development for the future of the country, and if the boating industry constantly strives to work with the government, India could potentially become a significant consumer and manufacturer of luxury yachts over the next 10 years.