India growth story intact; investors curious about elections

Written by PTI | Davos | Updated: Jan 25 2014, 02:23am hrs
India growthIndian leaders reiterated that the country's growth story remains intact even as the rich and powerful at the World Economic Forum. Reuters
Indian leaders today reiterated that the country's growth story remains intact even as the rich and powerful at the WEF appeared to be curious about the outcome of upcoming polls especially with advent of Aam Aadmi Party.

Most business leaders, including the likes of Tata Group chief Cyrus Mistry, were seen huddled with their global counterparts. Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma pitched the country's growth story during an investment round table on India.

The second day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meet, where nearly 125 business and political leaders from India are participating, also witnessed deliberations revolving around the Middle East and climate change, among others.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram said that India could certainly return to 8 per cent growth rate if past mistakes are not repeated.

"In the last year and a half, we decided that we need to do more and be more decisive...the results are there to see. Our economy has stabilised," Chidambaram said.

Striking a positive note, Sharma, after meeting global investors, said they have confidence in the Indian economy.

"Various measures initiated by the government to implement reforms and fast track the decision-making process and clearances to projects have helped build this confidence," the Minister added.

Reflecting the optimistic mood, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said the next government will have to take forward the process of fiscal consolidation to keep the economic momentum intact.

He said that there is no need to ring alarm bells for the Indian economy as it was already growing at 5 per cent and the rate would improve further.

Meanwhile, the emergence of Aam Aadmi Party and talks about next Lok Sabha elections seem to be dominating the informal talks about India at this Swiss skiing resort town.

While not many are willing to go on record with their take on 'India's newest political phenomenon' -- Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP -- and its potential impact on the upcoming general elections, almost every foreign leader is quizzing their Indian counterparts about these issues.

Global rights group Amnesty International's Secretary General Salil Shetty said the emergence of AAP has shown that people "do not accept nonsense anymore" and similar trends are being seen in Brazil, Russia and many other places.

"Accountability to the population has to be there. AAP emergence has at least created a scare among the political leadership that you have to be accountable," he said.

According to industry body CII's Director General Chandrajit Banerjee, as far as AAP is concerned, it is too early to make a judgement, although emergence of this party has "definitely been a curtain raiser sort of thing for everybody."

Apart from Chidambaram and Sharma, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram and Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithvi Raj Chavan, among others, are present here.

Union Ministers Kamal Nath and Praful Patel are also in attendance.

Many prominent names such as Mukesh Ambani, Rahul Bajaj, Anand Mahindra, Kumar Mangalam Birla and Chanda Kochhar, are not attending this year's WEF annual meet.

Even though there are dropouts, still India is represented here by around 100 people and the country's delegation is the fourth largest after the US, UK and the host nation Switzerland.

Yesterday, noted economist Thomas Friedman said he was hugely optimistic about India even though the country is facing big challenges.

"I still believe in India's huge human resource pool... Its noisy, its messy, it can be violent at times, but it is a country that still remains a true democracy.

"India's pluralism and its ability to manage...is a big lesson for whole world. At the end of the day, it is governance that matters," Friedman had said.