What a difference a year makes. In fact, this time around last year, amid chest-beating about policy paralysis and an alarming current account deficit, the rupee was rebounding from its all-time low of about 70 against the dollar and the market was pinning its hopes on the new Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan to work his magic. Like most things Indian, there was a twist. Rajan was the icing; the cake came later in the form of the decisive election victory of the BJP led-National Democratic Alliance.
With the hype around the historical mandate yet to die down, the hope now is that the Sensex will go even higher as the BJP government does what is expected of it. To gauge how much of it will come through, we have made our way to The Pierre Hotel in New York, which sits across the city’s evergreen landmark, Central Park. The 85-year-old Pierre has a colourful history and among many things, has witnessed the Great Depression, an infamous heist, the filming of a classic tango and multiple changes in ownership. Once owned by billionaire tycoon Jean Paul Getty, whose formula for success, much like fellow mega-billionaire John Davison Rockefeller, was, “Rise early, work hard, strike oil”, the Pierre was acquired by the Indian Hotels Company in 2005, a year when nothing could go wrong, not just in India but across the world. The late 2008 credit crisis, for many, was still undreamt fiction. Since then fiction did play out in its strangest form and many QEs later, investors still fondly recall the go-go years that lasted from 2003 to 2008.
Cut to the present. About 9,000 sq ft of unadulterated opulence awaited investors who had gathered at the Grand Ballroom for the 10th annual India Investment Forum organised by international finance publisher Institutional Investor. Given such an extremely over-auspicious build-up, the forum, in its 10th edition, was expected to be the most well-attended yet, but attendance thinned once it became known that finance minister Arun Jaitley would be skippi