The Indian economy is on a steady growth trajectory with strong GDP growth of above 7%. While there are questions around employability and employment levels in the country, urban centres are seeing relentless growth in offices.
At the start of 2019, we made a commitment to try and make you — RICS professionals — more connected with us through various platforms. I believe most of you would agree that we have increased connectivity, with many more opportunities to participate in knowledge and feedback sharing sessions.
Our professionals have been engaged in the formation of the South Asia Board, Leadership Forums, public consultations and market surveys, along with our thought-leadership and networking events. The continued endeavour has been to orchestrate engagements for wider participation, stimulating more intellectual exchanges and deliberations.
In 2019, there has been around 1,700 working-days-worth of engagement, across three industry summits; seven leadership forums; six masterclasses; and numerous APC assessments, lectures, and engagements at the Schools of the Built Environment. We hope to see wider participation in 2020 — we are committed to involving you even more in how we do business.
Focusing on our business objectives, we endeavour to be more-recognised as an influential thought-leader. Over the past year, we have deepened some of our existing relationships, as well as fostered new ones with the government, regulators, and other industry stakeholders.
It is heartening to note that our consistent focus on RERA over the course of the last one and a half years has borne fruit. The common open platform (COP), as propagated by RICS, has been welcomed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. We have been commissioned to produce a white paper about this platform, which we hope will take shape in 2020. We are working very closely with the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), who are in the process of formulating the 'Valuer's Bill', which is likely to be tabled at Parliament in January 2020. Having more opportunities to improve stakeholders' understanding of our relevance in the valuation domain is testament to how trusted a partner we have become. We are extremely pleased that we have been asked to join the Committee of Experts (CoE) by the IBBI, to advise on the regulatory framework that will shape the valuation profession in India.
There has also been constructive work done with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to revise the IS3861, which relates to the measurement of plinth, carpet and rentable area. The revised standard is now being based on the International Property Measurement Standards (IPMS), which is a great example of international standards adoption.
Additionally, in line with being a sustainable professional body for the 21st century, we have endeavoured to influence government stakeholders to work differently and create more demand for professionalism, standardisation and transparency in the market. Our engagement with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) is a step in that direction. We are evaluating a skills framework, which will provide a link between vocational skills to apprenticeship and, finally, professional qualification. This has "in principle" been accepted by the MSDE and our involvement is likely to widen at the stage when the framework is being created and put-together over the coming months. Dialogues on competency building and project management have also been initiated with the governments of Goa and Delhi. We hope all of these are engagements that will bring recognition and demand for the RICS qualification.
The Schools of the Built Environment continue to play a key role in creating entry-level talent in the industry. We are delighted that the Construction Project Management program has recently become the first PMI-accredited program in India — a significant feat and great recognition. We have also continued to provide training that powers and drives the industry. We have had repeated programs delivered for some of the largest organisations in the real estate and construction sectors for companies such as TATA Projects, L&T, Shapoorji Pallonji, and Mahindra Lifespaces. We have also very recently signed an MoU with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to provide training to transaction professionals in the country, which we hope to link to the RICS qualification.
Another noteworthy mention is our engagement with NAREDCO, who we partnered with for the first National RERA Conclave, which took place in November 2019. We authored a report on how the real estate financial system could be reinvigorated and rejuvenated, which provided some really radical solutions to unlock the barriers to finance in the sector. What stood out most from this report was that several of the recommendations we put forwards were echoed in announcements made by the Finance Minister on the AIF just two days later on 8 November. NAREDO has now approached us to support and partner across 12 of their national events next year.
To further our social impact, and support diversity and inclusion in the profession, RICS is drafting a framework that will help bring the LGBTQ population, along with defence personnel widows, into the CRE & FM professions, and provide them with opportunities to work and excel in mainstream society. Soon, when we have further built upon this framework, I will personally reach out to several of you to support us on this socially responsible initiative and showcase your own CSR.
Next year, we will continue to strengthen our network in India, which is our primary regional focus in the South-Asia market. In 2019, we extended our outreach to Sri Lanka, with the establishment of the Sri Lanka Leadership Forum. This will be a priority for us in 2020 and we hope to build deeper links with stakeholders in this market.
To wrap up, I personally hope to continue to fulfil the vision of RICS through greater engagement and collaboration with you in 2020. We are confident in our ability to support you during this period of unprecedented transformation in the built environment, as well as strengthen trust in the market. We plan to do this through increased transparency, the continued adoption of our standards and qualifications, and influencing policy and advocacy to further shape the profession. I hope that I will have the support of each of you in achieving this vision.
Nimish Gupta FRICS
Managing Director, South Asia
With over 22 years' experience in real estate, construction, education training and technology adoption, Nimish built up a career within the built environment sector after graduating as an engineer from the National Institute of Technology. He started work at Larsen & Toubro, the largest construction company in India, and has since held senior positions within high-profile real estate and construction organisations, such as Vipul Modern, a leading construction services provider, Laing O'Rourke, and Lendlease.
Nimish is a chartered surveyor himself and has been closely associated with RICS since 2005. He played an integral role in the formation of the vision, planning and implementation of RICS South Asia, and was among the first to qualify as an RICS Fellow in India.