Please allow me to start this column by thanking the Editor of NRIPulse.com for asking me to write again (repeat business is always good), and more importantly thanking YOU, the readers, for your responses. I was pleasantly delighted to receive so many congratulatory emails and very well thought out replies to the questions I raised in my inaugural column tilted:
In the interest of time and space, I will NOT repeat the questions here.
I received mixed responses with regard to the stability of the new UPA government. Though almost everyone believes that the central government in India will be a coalition government for at least a couple of elections cycles, few Atlantans felt that the UPA coalition will not last long. I personally feel that it will last at least three years. Mr. Mohanan
Nair, an IT Consultant in Atlanta, feels that the current coalition will be as strong as the former NDA coalition.
When it comes to economic liberalization, again, almost every respondent feels that it will continue. The UPA government may be more sensitive to the poor. Thus, reforms in the power sector and the dismantling of some subsidies may be at a slow pace. But, privatization of
PSUs, removal of
the License Raj and opening the market to global competition will continue.
Dr. Seema Gahlaut of UGA adds that we can expect hardening of position with regard to Pakistan on Kashmir, and more statements about the multi-polarity in the international system (which is a code word to criticize US
unilateralism). However, there is unanimous agreement that the trade between India and USA will continue to grow.
As we all know, India’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 8.2 percent in the fiscal year 2003-04. It is expected to show good growth rate, in spite of stagnation in UP and Bihar. Even the Left understands the market forces well. Dr. Indrani
Dutta-Gupta is quick to add that the Speaker, Mr. Somnath Chatterjee and his communist friends from West Bengal know how to play the game. Mr. Pradip Nagar takes the cynical view that the coalition consists of individuals with selfish agenda. However, the best action the government may take, in his opinion is inaction – just leave the private sector alone!
Recently, Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, founder of www.loksatta.org was visiting Atlanta. In his speech at the recent Indian Professionals Network
(IPN) meeting, he painted a very positive picture of the recent trends in India. All election candidates in India now have to declare their criminal records. The election finance regulations in India are much better than what US has. However, local and regional considerations supersede national issues and thus there is no such thing as a national mandate in India today.
Though there will be no Ambassador-at-Large, the UPA government has created a new ministry to take care of NRI affairs. Although this will mean more resources are allocated for assisting
NRIs, the role is shifted from the New York based quasi-private entity to a New Delhi based government ministry.
Foreign Direct Investment into India is expected to grow. However, there is no reason to believe that it will catch up with what China or other ASEAN nations experience.
Indian subsidiaries such as Hindustan Lever Ltd. are now providing leadership talents to their multi-national parents. The
NRI/PIO community, especially the dot com entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, have created tremendous wealth, to the tune of $80 billion. The reverse brain drain due to the economic slowdown in US has helped India more than we care to admit. Yet, India is not perceived as the best destination by multi-national firms yet. In the final analysis, the change of government will have only a limited negative impact on overall growth and liberalization. But, if it results in a wider growth that benefits a higher percentage of the population, it will serve India well in the long run.
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