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Press release

7 NOV 2019

Insights from the RICS Construction & Infrastructure Summit India 2019

On 6 November, 350+ professionals gathered at the inaugural RICS Construction & Infrastructure Summit India 2019, which took place in Mumbai. The Summit provided a platform to discuss recurring and important questions about construction and infrastructure development.

When it comes to construction and infrastructure development, almost all countries face the same challenges of providing enough infrastructure, in the right places, to meet the requirements of its people.

The Summit is RICS' first venture into the construction and infrastructure space in India. It is a step towards its commitment to create an annual event that tackles these kinds of topics and showcases relevant thought leadership.

Session overview

A future vision

The day started with a power-packed session that set the pace of the day. Session participants — Dip Kishore, Sean Tompkins, Sanjay Dutt FRICS, Neil Bullen, and Nimish Gupta FRICS — focused on the challenges, opportunities, a future vision of the sector, and how India measures-up against other countries.

An economic-growth enabler

Construction and infrastructure as an enabler of future economic growth was the focus of the Summit's second session. These two sectors are a top priority for the government, which has aspirations of pushing India into the global top 50. Participants — John Fletcher, Neil Bullen, Atul Sharma, Amit Kathpalia MRICS, Rohit Singhal, and Rama Murthy — stressed the importance of contract management and dispute resolution. These will help address issues around contract enforcement, which is significant as this will have an impact on India's rank in the Ease of Doing Business Index.

Much-needed benchmarks

The third session was dominated by discussions around improving regulation to strengthen construction and infrastructure development. The panellists — Nimish Gupta FRICS, Brij Nandan Yadava FRICS, Unmesh Kulkarni, Ajit B Dongre MRICS, Argenio Vincent Antao MRICS, Deepak Suvarna MRICS, and Ajay Saxena — discussed the challenge of getting both individuals and businesses to understand and comply with these much-needed benchmarks. There was agreement that in order to catalyse compliance, we must initiate a cultural shift through reform that builds robustness and accountability in the industry, weeding out unprofessional practices and sanitising the sector.

This was the first time I've heard discussions about construction and infrastructure at such a macro-economic level. This helps us understand the power of industry as an enabler of economic development, and how to overcome the challenges present in the sector.

Summit attendee

Technological transformation

Technology is transforming the way we do business, but putting these tools to best-use requires significant investment. Session four's panellists — Aditya Desai MRICS, Ameya Gumaste MRICS, Jack Zhang, Tushar K Srivastava MRICS, P S Somasunder, Mr Tushar Kanade, and Sameer Nayar — debated the impact of technology on human processes and procedures and the extent to which technology can replace them. What is clear is that in order for technology to be widely adopted, it must have a viable return on investment, which necessitates assigning the right person to do the right job.

Addressing the skills gap

Session five addressed the current quality of manpower and the lack of skills, which plagues the sector's performance and growth. Participants — Roop Banerjee MRICS, Mark Powell, Yashavanth Anantharaj MRICS,Raj Pillai, M V Harish, Biju Raj, and Sohan Mohanty — expressed how serious a concern this is for the sector, especially given the importance government places on infrastructure development linking back to "Housing for All" and the smart city agenda.

While discussions around improving education, professional training and talent were had, there is still no one solution to the question, "what must be done to overcome India's skills gap?"

A role to play

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RICS School of Built Environment is an academic led institution catering to the needs of the industry and helping to tackle India's skills gap.

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