Collette Mathur Carries A Spl Message From PC To Geneva

New Delhi, June 5 | Updated: Jun 6 2004, 05:30am hrs
For the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF), the clock has come full circle in its relationship with India. It was exactly twenty years back in 1984 when Rajiv Gandhi as Congress general secretary was visiting Geneva that WEF director for India and South Asia, Collette Mathur first broached with Mr Gandhi about starting an annual economic summit in India. Mr Gandhi fully supported the move. It was around that time that the initial contacts were also made with P Chidambaram. Much earlier, however, Manmohan Singh and Ms Mathur and her family had struck up a close friendship when Mr Singh worked in Europe with Unctad and the South Commission.

This week, Ms Mathur was back in India to meet, apart from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister P Chidambaram, also industry minister Kamal Nath, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, Planning Commission member NK Singh and a few of the other bureaucrats in key industry-related ministries. Apart from meeting up with old friends and acquaintances, this visit was also intended to kickstart the preparations for the forthcoming India Economic Summit in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in December this year. Ms Mathur also took time off to meet up with multinational corporations operating in India who are WEF members to get a first hand account of their perceptions of the new government and what is in store for foreign investors.

What is the message that she is carrying back Says Ms Mathur, Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram form a dream team. We believe that reforms will be carried forward. In fact, when she gets back to Geneva on Monday and sits down to write the invitation letters for the India summit to the top management of the 1,000 global corporates, she will be starting the message with a statement from Mr Chidambaram himself who has given special permission for it to be used. The finance ministers statement highlights that, we are fully committed to push economic reforms and even accelerate them. From the WEFs side, apart from trying accelerate foreign investment into the country, it also wants to be more involved where companies can partner in areas of education, public governance, healthcare and corporate citizenship.

Ms Mathur believes that Manmohan Singh becoming the Prime Minister is a big plus for India as the international community is highly appreciative of him. But in this backdrop, there is also a realisation that the new government will now have to finds it feet soon. The early signs for the government from the international economic community seems to be encouraging. The government will now have to work to sustain this feel-good sentiment.