No reversal of tide of economic reform in India: Nirupama Rao

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Asserting that the ‘India Story’ is definitely not over, Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao has assured American businees that there is no question of the tide of economic reform in India being reversed.

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“Look at the history of reform in India from 1991 onwards. Successive governments have come and gone, but the direction of reform has not been reversed, ever,” she said Thursday at the Asia Society.

Speaking on the topic of “The United States and India: Implementing a Deeper Strategic Partnership” Rao said the menu of future cooperation emerging from the recent India-US Strategic Dialogue is “unprecedented and covers almost every field of human endeavour.”

Questioning critics’ suggestion that India-US relations are ‘oversold’ or ‘adrift’, Rao said, “The partnership is yielding dividends, which are tangible and affect the lives of our two peoples in a positive manner.”

But Rao lamented that the “voices of Indian companies and business interests are often unheard in the audio stream of voices from the US side who are constantly urging India to ‘do more’ on the reform front.”

“In this crescendo from the American side, is the political economy and anthropology of India understood sufficiently?” she asked and emphatically stated: “There is no question of the tide of economic reform in India being reversed.

Asserting that “the India Story is definitely not over,” Rao noted that the Indian economy continues to be one of the two fastest growing economies in the world despite the fall in growth rates in the last year.

Referring to “questions or doubts” being raised in the US about India’s pace of reforms or opening up, she said: “The logic of an open economy and its benefits have still to be understood fully.”

“On our part, we realise the need to revitalise business and investor sentiments and remove supply side bottlenecks,” Rao said noting, “Government is continuing with its efforts to bring in further reforms in key sectors of economy, including FDI in multi-brand retail, insurance, power sectors.”

“I would like to assure US investors that the Indian economy has the capacity to respond dynamically to the current situation facing it.”

On the other hand, from the Indian perspective too there are some challenges and issues including visa and market access problems that the Indian businesses face and which continue to hinder the realisation of full potential of India-US commercial ties, Rao said.

“We need to address these issues constructively while keeping the long term perspective of mutual benefit, and the big picture of our relationship, in mind,” she said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])