I’m fortunate to have been in India on holiday for a few days. On the backwaters of Kerala in the far south, the natural beauty of the landscape retains all its serenity and tranquility But even here, in “God’s Own country”, Keralans are beginning to feel ripples from a global recession that originated thousands of miles away in what seems to them like another world.
Millions of people from India’s western coast have found well paid jobs in the Gulf states in recent years, but now that the price of oil has fallen 40% from last year’s highs, revenues have slowed. As a result, many construction projects in the Gulf have been put on hold. News is now filtering through that planes are returning to India full of laid off workers.
In the luxury resorts that fringe Lake Vembanad to the south of Cochin, hotel executives are facing 50% declines in visitor numbers from the US and Europe- a drop in numbers that Kerala’s expanding tourist industry can ill afford.
Pick up a national newspaper in Kerala, and you’ll also read of lay offs in Indian car plants, tyre factories and metal foundries due to the global slump in demand for manufactured products.
All of which demonstrates that in a truly global recession, there is no hiding place. Even in a country that will enjoy a 7% GDP growth in 2009, there will be some pain to endure in the short term.
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