Economic reforms accepted across India’s political spectrum: President

By Dipankar De Sarkar, IANS,

London : President Pratibha Patil told a gathering of top British figures from the world of business and finance Wednesday that economic reforms unleashed in 1991 have been accepted by all political parties in India.

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“Our economic policies have acceptance across our political spectrum. India is, undoubtedly, among the most attractive destinations globally for doing business,” Patil said at a banquet in Guildhall, the 800-year-old home of the City of London Corporation.

Comprehensive economic reforms undertaken in 1991 were aimed at “accelerating the pace and quantum of investments in India.” Patil told guests at the banquet hosted in her honour by the Lord Mayor of the City of London -the financial centre of the British capital.

The President said India’s steadily increasing urbanization and rapid growth of the electronic media have brought about “sweeping changes in the lifestyles and consumption attitudes of our people.”

“The availability of cheap consumer finance has served to increase disposable incomes,” which in turn had fuelled demand for goods and services – “ranging from home appliances and electronic goods to restaurants, travel, communication and entertainment.”

“Today in India we have a very substantial middle class with growing purchasing power. All this should be of interest to businessmen all over the world,” she added.

Her remarks came after the Lord Mayor, Ian Luder, who visited India with a business team last week, said some of the Indian financial practitioners and officials the delegation met “were cautious about reform.”

“But in a global world, and even with your huge domestic market, you no longer have the option of keeping your head down: India is now truly part of the global economy.”

“Fortunately, your government recognises that the hidden costs of India failing to initiate incremental reforms would be huge, condemning large parts of the population to remain where they are,” Luder said.

He said it was “crucial” for India to lift restrictions on the movement of capital, improve corporate governance and build financial inclusion.

India is the second largest investor in Britain after the US in terms of the number of jobs created by Indian companies.

More than 600 Indian companies have investments in Britain – two-thirds of them in the ICT and software sector – and some 74 Indian companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange, compared to 12 in New York.