Goh Chok Tong, Former Prime Minister of Singapore was in India recently and gave a speech asking India to accelerate the pace of reforms.
Arguing that the old mindset opposed to competition on the plea of foreign economic colonisation and the theory of protectionism would only breed complacency and inefficiency. He said “competition drives economic growth; you lose some but you win more,” and urged the Indian government to remove impediments to healthy competition.[Indian atma biswas and the positive sum economics of trade]
Looks like this message is being taken seriously. “India Everywhere”. This is the campaign that Indians are unleashing in Davos for the World Economic Forum on Jan 25.
“India: the world’s fastest-growing free-market democracy,” proclaims one sign. Others will extol India’s growing business prowess (it now boasts 91 companies with revenues of $1 billion-plus), its $500 billion stock market capitalization, and its vast and youthful consumer market.
Waiting for visitors at their hotel rooms will be gifts from India — a pashmina shawl, an Apple (AAPL) iPod loaded with Indian pop and classical music, a piece of traditional art, some ayurvedic oils — along with a CD packed with all sorts of economic information about the country.[Davos Days, Bollywood Nights]
Finally someone got the clue that being understated and unspoken is not the way to do business. Among the list of people in the delegation are some odd balls like Amartya Sen and Shabana Azmi. The article also mentions that the ruler of Kerala will also be present and Kerala is a magnet for foreign investment.
Ignoring all that, it is important that India perform the right song and dance routine where it matters and display its cultural power along with the economic might. As the Globalization Institute notes
The figures tell a story. Economic growth is expected to be 8% in 2006, at a time when Japan would consider 1% a major success. There are now 91 businesses in India with turnover in excess of $1 billion, stock market capitalisation is in the $500 billion range, and there are reportedly over 200 million people learning English in India.
It’s worth contrasting this image with the pessimistic predictions of the late 1960s and early 1970s. India was headed for “inevitable” mass famine. Its population would drop as disease and chronic malnutrition raised the death rate. Corruption was seen as “endemic” and the combination of bureaucracy, protectionism, and a willingness to support the pirating of foreign trade marks were major obstacles to inward investment.[India flaunts it at Davos]