A unique reform process in a complex country

Written by Economy Bureau | New Delhi, Oct 29 | Updated: Oct 30 2007, 04:25am hrs
The worlds top industrial leaders came calling at the Red Fort on Monday to hear commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath give the India story. The Fortune Global Forum 2007 including Goldman Sachs, Cisco Systems, Fedex, Dell, Qualcomm and Unilever were serenaded by the Army band, as the minister read out the advantages of investing in one of the worlds fastest growing markets.

It was meant to rival the last edition of the Fortune Global Forum, held at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing in 2005. Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, speaking at another venue, told the CEOs that India viewed globalisation as a planet of opportunity and said reform was a one-way street.

To the strains of the Army buglers, Nath, said the setting at Red Fort reflected the countrys heritage. India is so complex a country that the reform process undertaken by the government is unique, he said and reminded the guests that there were still 300 million people in the country living on less than a dollar a day and 600 million people dependent on subsistence farming.

But then he proudly referred to the BSE Sensex conquering the 20,000-mark and said, the state of business confidence and expectation in India are very positive. Last year, we had FDI inflow to the tune of $15.7 billion. Our FDI target for the current year is $30 billion.

He said according to a projection by Goldman Sachs, India was likely to show the fastest growth over the next 30 to 50 years, adding that the country was one of the major sources of human resources and market opportunities. It is estimated that India is home to 20% of the worlds population under 24 years. I hope you will become a part of Indias growth story as we shape an economy which reflects the hopes and aspirations of over a billion people.

Time Warner chairman and CEO Richard D Parsons in his address described the setting remarkable and magnificent. Parsons said India was well on its way to realise its tryst with destiny playing a significant role in global trade and commerce. The wooing of global CEOs would continue on Tuesday as well with the Delhi government planning an event in the 16th century Old Fort.