It would be a mistake not to engage with India with respect: Anand Sharma

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS,

Toronto: Lashing out at nations, particularly Australia, New Zealand, Canada and England, for criticizing India for its handling of the Commonwealth Games, Commerce Industry Minister Anand Sharma Friday warned that they may have a price to pay in terms of business opportunities in the emerging economy.

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“It would be a mistake not to engage with India with respect. When it comes to business, who’s loss would it be?” he told the media after meeting his Canadian counterpart Peter Van Loan in Ottawa.

Slamming the foreign media for “running a campaign” against India over its handling of the Games, the minister said, “Dated and frozen images, exaggeration, trying to run down a country is not acceptable to us.”

A visibly angry Sharma said India is an emerging economic power as well as the largest democracy in the world and the Commonwealth.

He said, “I can tell you we will host the Games and we will host them in a manner which is befitting.”

The minister said “unprecedented rains and heavy floods even till now” have played havoc with work at the Games’ village. “There is no major project anywhere which is concluded to perfection.”

Hitting out at those international athletes who have pulled out of the Games citing health and security reasons, Sharma said, “Maybe either they are not confident of winning the medals or they will lose out.”

Earlier interacting with South Asian journalists in Toronto Thursday night, the minister said, “I would like to request the media members for a fair and balance reporting. One sink picture and one dirty room picture. But there are many positives – tens of thousands of people have toiled getting stadiums (ready), building metro….but nothing gets reported.”

He added, “Let me put it bluntly that tens of thousands of athletes will be coming and the Games will be successful.”

The minister said India carried out the preparations transparently and the country will live up to its ” tradition and culture (that) how hospitable we are – a guest is a god for us.”

Sharma is in Canada to meet his Canadian counterpart Peter Van Loan, business leaders and CEOs as part of the dialogue between the two countries to deepen their “strategic partnership” and triple bilateral trade to $15 billion in the next five years.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at [email protected])