Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Sunday, Sep 26, 2004
Industry & Economy - Economy
Manmohan says 'it is my duty to promote India' Comments on criticism at home
New York , Sept. 25
THE Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, said it was his "duty and obligation" that, whenever he travelled abroad, he should seek to promote India and that he did not believe he had said or done anything wrong. The Prime Minister, during the course of an extensive press conference, was asked to comment on a criticism in India that he was like a "salesman" during this overseas visit.
"I am here certainly to sell India, explain to the rest of the world what India is doing. The rest of the world knows that the bulk of the resources for India's development have always been mobilised domestically and we will continue on those lines... But, at the margins, there is scope to involve the world community in supporting our development. And as Prime Minister, it is my duty and obligation that, whenever I come abroad, I should seek to promote India," Dr Singh said.
"...I don't see anything wrong in what I have said, what I have done that Jyoti Babu can take exception to. Before I came here, I had a very good meeting with Jyoti Babu, with Comrade Surjeet and Sitaram Yechury, and I told them clearly that this is what I am going to say. I said to them I am going to tell the world community that India needs foreign direct investment and we will seek to create in our country a climate, an atmosphere, an environment conducive to greater flow of direct investments. And on that, there was complete agreement between us... as I said, the common minimum programme language is reflective of where the coalition partners stand on this," Dr Singh said.
The Prime Minister was asked by this correspondent if there were apprehensions in the event of a change in the White House after the November elections especially in the context of strident rhetoric on issues such as outsourcing. Dr Singh did not specially address the subject of outsourcing.
"In the heat of election controversy, a lot of things are said. My own hope and expectation is that our relations with the United States have withstood the test of times... And my hope is that regardless of the character of the administration in Washington, these relations will become stronger, more durable and more productive of results," Dr Singh said.
"Political parties come and go but national interests remain more or less same and it is the convergence of our national interests... which gives confidence and hope that we can look for better days to come in the future of Indo-US relations," he said.
The Prime Minister spoke about his interaction with American CEOs and the "complaints" he heard in that session.
"By and large, there were complaints of deficiencies of infrastructure, excessive democratisation of the economic and social process. They also complained about corruption," Dr Singh said adding that there has been a sea change in perception of both institutional investors and direct investors since 1991, and that this was indicative of the "winds of change blowing in our country."
While nearly all the questions at the press interaction on Pakistan related to political and security issues between the two countries, especially to cross border terrorism and the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue, a joint statement issued at the end of Dr Singh's meeting with the Pakistan President, General Pervez Musharraf, did contain a paragraph devoted to economics and trade.
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