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India needs more risk-takers: PM

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`Look at investment and trade opportunities in our larger neighbourhood'

MEET THE CAPTAINS: (From right) Mr Rahul Bajaj, Mr Azim Premji, Mr R.P. Goenka, Mr Keshub Mahindra, Mr Ratan Tata, Mr Saroj K. Poddar and Mr V. Krishnamurthy at a meeting of Council on Trade and Industry with the Prime Minister in New Delhi on Thursday. V. Sudershan

New Delhi , July 20

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on Thursday, urged industry to move beyond Indian boundaries and take more risks and harness their entrepreneurial abilities.

Addressing the Prime Minister's Council on Trade and Industry, Dr Singh said that the country needs "more risk-takers and entrepreneurs who are willing to think big and think into the future."

Dr Singh said, "Indian industry must take a more serious look at investment and trade opportunities in our larger neighbourhood." A beginning could be with South Asia and eventually extended to South-East Asia, West Asia and Central Asia, he said.

Dr Singh pointed out that the overall climate for investment has improved and would continue to do so. He said that the growth rates have increased in the past three years, including the rate of growth of industrial production and added that the business climate for the foreseeable future is positive, despite the constraints imposed by high oil prices and gaps in infrastructure.

"On both fronts, our Government has taken steps to narrow the gap between supply and demand," he said.

NMMC report

He said that the reports submitted by the National Manufacturing Competitive Council (NMCC) and the Investment Commission would be now circulated to the State Governments to make them aware of the industry's view on the issues related to manufacturing and investment growth.

He urged the industry to pay attention to employment generation and the welfare of the working class.

"You must also pay special attention to issues like displacement of rural folk in areas where large industrial units are being set up. There is no reason why there should be a confrontation between business and the rural poor. Rather, the rural poor should welcome new industries in their areas since these do create new employment opportunities. We have had some trouble in recent months relating to displaced persons and this should be avoided. We must be careful and avoid such controversy especially in the case of special economic zones and industrial parks," Dr Singh said.

He said that Indian business must come to terms with the fact that countries in Asia are coming closer economically and India cannot lag behind.

R&D initiatives

He also drew attention to research and development (R&D) initiatives undertaken by the industry. Dr Singh said, "In our country, R&D expenditure is largely in the public sector. We need to reverse this because it is investment in R&D that can keep you ahead of competition."

He also expressed concerns over India's inability to make use of the opportunities created following the dismantling of the Multi Fibre Agreement.

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