Finance Conclave at Jaipuria Noida: ‘Infra’structured for Success

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Jaipuria Institute of Management has always strived to offer students an excellent in-class learning experience coupled with beyond-the-classroom teaching; that includes programmes that facilitate industry interface. An initiative on those lines was recently taken by Hiranya, The Finance Club at Jaipuria Noida, which hosted the Finance Conclave on the 14th of September with the theme- ‘Infrastructure Financing in India’. The conclave was attended by some big names in the business.

The Director General of Jaipuria Institute of Management, Mr. Pankaj Gupta, Mr. Anil Varshney (Vice President BSES) and Mr. T.K. Arun (Editor of the Economic Times) were the Chief Guests at the conclave. The event started on a rousing note with an inspiring speech from Mr. Rajiv R. Thakur, Director, Jaipuria Noida. He appreciated the efforts of the faculty and members of the finance club in organising this event to perfection. He also spoke about the challenges in finance and encouraged students to be open to exploring new opportunities in the field.

Mr. Gupta made astute observations in his speech, as he talked about the difference in infrastructure in India and the US. He also encouraged the youngsters to be inspired, conduct research and create a co-code for infrastructure to make a difference to our developing nation. The speech definitely resonated with the audience, which was held spellbound throughout.

Getting real-life industry experience from the experts is one of the highlights of such events and it was something the students were looking forward to. They weren’t to be disappointed when Mr. Arun took to the stage. He talked about corruption, policy paralysis, and criminal activities as some of the reasons behind poor infrastructure in the country. He also stressed on the importance of improving the infrastructure in rural India as it can have a direct impact on living conditions.

Mr. Anil Varshney of BSES then talked about availability of electricity and long procedures that cause delays in various developmental projects. “These delays are the bottlenecks that can wreak havoc with costs, which can be avoided. Time-bound clearance of paper work is the way to go forward, because it will ensure better growth of our economy,” he said.
With these inspiring talks over, the platform was set for panel discussions with eminent personalities from the industry. The panel members were keen on making their points through live examples which the students could relate to. And the effort was well received, as the gathering sat in rapt attention through the discussions that took place over the whole day.

Panel Session I: “Infrastructure Financing in India: Constraints, Challenges and Opportunities”

The first Panel Session had Mr. Subir Hazra (Associate Vice President & Head Strategy Planning, Delhi International Airport (P) Limited), Mr. Uday Ravi (Additional Vice President – Engg., Reliance Infrastructure Limited) and Mr. Manish Singla (Head Corporate Finance, Azure Power) as its guest speakers.

Mr. Hazra started the discussion by focussing on what he believes are special features of infrastructure – capital intensive, long gestation period, largely fixed operating costs, public interest in nature of most projects, interface with regulators and government agencies. He talked of the limitations of the Indian Capital Market and also explained why tax initiatives should be treated differently.

Mr. Uday Ravi took the discussion further by pointing out the step-motherly treatment given to infrastructure in the country. He also drew comparisons between India and China, which has shown super performance growth in spite of the challenges it has faced. Mr. Singla, on the other hand, highlighted the areas that could be worked on to bring about major improvements in Indian infrastructure. Policy commitment, Capital commitment, Developer commitment, User commitment and Regulatory commitment were the key areas that he talked about.

The panel concluded that the infrastructure problems in both rural and urban India are constraining its growth and should be looked at by the Government on a priority basis.

Panel Session II: “Legal and Regulatory Framework and Financing Options for Infrastructure Financing in India.”

The second panel discussion started after lunch and included speakers like Mr. G. C. Tripathi (Professor of Infrastructure Financing, IMT Ghaziabad), Ms. Meenu Mishra (Advisor Regulatory Services, Yamuna Power Limited) and Ms. Ranjana Mudholkar (VP Accounts, LANCO Infra).

Ms. Mishra talked about the importance of collective initiative to improve infrastructure and lamented the fact that individuals and firms pursue their own self-interests. She also talked about the Electricity Act of 2003 that promotes electricity supply to all areas and covers almost everything which previous projects couldn’t.

Ms. Mudholkar gave an insight into various elements of equity and debt, such as promoters, equipment suppliers, and NRI and infrastructural funds. She also talked about how Indian/Foreign Capital markets are the equity and their overall importance to the larger picture. With examples, and by sharing their own experiences, the panellists’ concerns hit home with the audience.

Panel Session III: Emerging Trends and Credit Enhancement Scheme for Infrastructure Financing.”

Esteemed panellists like Mr. Mukesh Kumar (VP Infra, SBI Capital), Mr. Sivmathan (GM Finance, Delhi Metro) and Mr. Satyaprakash (Ex-Economist NTPC, Commandant in CISF) took the chairs for Panel Session III. They brought their experience and expertise to the fore in this lively discussion.

The session started with talk around debt funding and different factors that affect it. The panellists also talked about project financing, where they laid special emphasis on cash inflows.

In his presentation, Mr. Sivmathan discussed features of financing in infrastructure, including its capital intensiveness, long gestation period, low financial IRR, etc. He explained how projects like Metro Rail are not feasible for private players. However, he was also quick to point out emerging trends in private participation in infra projects.

All the panel sessions ended with a vote of thanks by Prof. Moiduddin Ahmad, while mementos were presented by Dr. Anurag Singh, Dr. Pratibha Wasan and Dr. Shikha Bhatia.

Students who already felt enriched by the learning from the talks and panel discussions were in for a special treat when industry personalities agreed to answer their questions. In one such interview, Mr. Mukesh Kumar (VP Infra, SBI Capital) talked about issues in infrastructure financing. He pinpointed the funding gap, fiscal burden, and asset liability mismatch of commercial banks as some of the challenges that are faced. He also offered solutions, suggesting increased Public‐Private partnership projects in infrastructure, financing promoters’ equity and relaxation from Capital Market Exposure.

Learning from the best in the business was a unique and exciting experience for the students, who were left feeling inspired at the end of the day. The eminent personalities seemed to have relished the opportunity to interact with the managers of the future as well. As Mr. Anil Varshney pointed out to students, “Your campus has a good environment for learning. I hope you all will inculcate the qualities required to scale heights in industry.” The conclave itself is a step in that direction.