New Delhi, November 28: India’s Finance Minister P. Chidambaram emphasized the need for what he called as “ruthless efficiency” and “killer instinct” to speed up much needed infrastructure development failure of which would put developing economies by the way side.
“We (India) are committed to efficiency in infrastructure development. But China does it with ruthless efficiency. This is what is required to address the urgent need for better infrastructure and we need to do it quickly. Those who have the will, will find the way and those who don't will be on the wayside,” Mr. Chidambaram told a packed ceremonial opening ceremony of the 21st World Economic Forum (WEF) India Economic Summit at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi.
He said that growth in agriculture, industry and services sectors is dependent on good infrastructure.
“What we lack is the killer instinct or the ruthless efficiency which China has,” India’s Finance Minister said.
He recalled that New Delhi will build a new airport in a few years time whereas China will complete the second Beijing airport by 2008. In infrastructure China is building many firsts and world’s biggest.
Sending a strong message to 600 delegates from 200 companies and organizations attending the summit as well as rest of developing countries, politicians and trade unions Mr. Chidambaram also called for greater Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).
“We need to allow more Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) into manufacturing and industry to enhance efficiency. China is a shining example and FDI has done wonders in China. This has boosted its efficiency enabling China to capitalize on its comparative advantage of its cheap labour.
“India has educated and a young labour force yet only attracts a fraction of FDI what China draws,” India’s Finance Minister pointed out.
Another message was that Government as far as possible must leave entrepreneurial activity to entrepreneurs or private sector.
The Summit was told that China has adopted the East Asian model and was leading the pack of high growth economies with 9% growth.
“India too has joined the pack while many more countries such as Pakistan were expected to follow. The need of the hour now was to find ways and means of sustaining and surpassing the growth rate that India had already achieved,” Minister Chidambaram said.
On a positive note he said that the resilience and dynamism within was helping Asia to drive global growth.
He said that a few years ago 8% growth would have been a wild dream but today it was possible. A key focus of the WEF Summit is how India could focus on 8% growth and beyond.
The Finance Minister said high growth could be achieved and sustained via improved infrastructure for which countries need to pursue ruthless efficiency, attract higher FDIs among other measures.
For agriculture he said that the way forward was to cover more land under irrigation. Stepping up public investment into irrigation by restoring man made and natural waterbeds and expanding the reach of irrigation could do this. This will also reduce the dependence on the monsoon by the agriculture sector.
Greater private sector participation in post harvest activities was also stressed.
Focusing on the industry, Mr. Chidambaram said: “India is an industrial society today. But this is not enough and we need to become an innovative society. Product leadership defines leadership today. It can come about only through higher investment in Research and Development. However most firms have financial constraints.”
The need to open up services except health and education to private sector was also stressed.
Here too Mr. Chidambaram said that the services sector must be open to foreign investors as well as to improve competition.
WEF Summit co-host Confederation of Indian Industry President Yogesh C. Deveshwar said that high growth must be pursued but it also must be made sustainable.
“So we need high, sustainable and inclusive growth,” he added.
He also endorsed the need for better infrastructure saying that it will boost entrepreneurship and inclusive growth.
“We have many priorities but resources are scarce. Therefore we need strategies that best utilise scarce resources to deliver better results,” the CII chief emphasised.
WEF founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab observed that he had seen a huge change in the mindset in India, over the 21 years that the summit has been taking place here. According to him there is an increasing incidence of public-private partnership and that the gap between society and government is narrowing but now focus should be on generating employment in rural areas.
The opening session ended with Colette Mathur, Director, India and South Asia, World Economic Forum presenting a book compiled by her and CII chief mentor Tharun Das called “India Rising” to the Finance Minister.
The opening night included a gala reception and spectacular cultural show hosted by Sri Lanka. It was arranged by the Ceylon Chamber and sponsored by the BOI, Tourist Board and SriLankan Airlines.
A 25–member Lankan delegation led by National Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and comprising nearly 20 business leaders are attending the summit. Today, which is the final day of the Summit, will see a luncheon session on Sri Lanka.
The Lankan team will use the opportunity to promote Indian investor and trade interest.
The second day of the Summit, yesterday, discussed a host of issues through parallel sessions.
Among topics taken up were Foreign Direct Investment, global challenges, infrastructure development, future knowledge based industries, reinventing manufacturing, energy security, financial services, unlocking agriculture’s potential, the environment, health sector and judicial reforms.