Indian PM should induct more professionals in government, says Silicon Valley’s Kanwal Rekhi


Silicon Valley (US) : Hailing the appointment of Infosys chief Nandan Nilekani as chairman of the Unique Identification Database Authority of India (UIDAI), Silicon Valley’s Indian giant Kanwal Rekhi said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should induct more professionals in his government.

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“This is a very good move. India needs to develop a tradition of public service for retired talent from the private sector as in the US,” the most celebrated alumni of Mumbai IIT where he has set up the School of Information Technology with a $3 million corpus, told IANS in an interview.

“Capitalising on their experience and managerial talent will serve the nation well. Hopefully many more appointments like this will follow,” he said.

Calling the Indian prime minister “not much of a liberaliser”, he said, “Manmohan Singh disappointed in his first five years. He should lose no time this time around to speed up reforms.”

Questioning Manmohan Singh record as a reformer, he said, “I don’t think of him (Manmohan Singh) as an instinctive liberaliser. Though I am no votary of Hindutva, the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) quickly liberalised major sectors – aviation, telecom, infrastructure, government enterprises like Maruti.

“What has Manmohan Singh done after the BJP left in 2004? Opposition of the left was a handy excuse for not moving on the economic front. Even after he called their bluff on the India-US nuclear deal, he did not move on the economic front.”

Though he commended Lalu Yadav for doing “a good job” as the railway minister, the outspoken IITian said, “But he didn’t built upon the success. He didn’t put the profits back into the railways. He was busy with his agenda for Bihar. I think railways should get privatized also.”

He said the Indian government-run enterprises are the dens of corruption and inefficiency and must be privatised.

“Any activity that can be run for profit in the private sector ought not be a part of government activity,” he said.

“Many people oppose privatisation saying that if government-owned enterprises are run like capitalist enterprises, who will help India’s poor people. But how have government-run enterprises helped India’s poor when they make huge losses and suck the taxpayers’ money which can be used to help the poor in social sectors?” asked the venture capitalist of Silicon Valley.

“On the other hand, look what privatisation in the aviation and telecom sectors have done for Indians. These sectors are now thriving and creating millions of jobs for India’s poor. Why should the government run inefficient Air India when Jet Airways is doing so well?” he said.

Manmohan Singh, he said, would be postponing India’s prosperity if he does not go for wholesale reforms and privatisation immediately.

“The government should get down to basics of providing primary education, primary health care and primary infra-structure. It has no business being in the business,” said the multi-millionaire venture capitalist who formed The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) in 1992 to nurture budding entrepreneurs.