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Anand Sharma slaps down Davos doubts on Indian economy

business Updated: Jan 28, 2012 23:19 IST

Indian trade minister Anand Sharma put up a furious defence of his country on Saturday, demanding "why are you picking on India" when asked about concerns in Davos over the emerging giant.

"What is going wrong with us? I would like people to educate me!" Sharma said during a debate at a meeting of business leaders at the annual World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos.

"Those who have these alarm bells ringing should look inwards about the governance in their societies, their regulatory mechanisms."

"I'm not going to point out regions, but the fact is that there is no recovery in the developed world, it's a jobless recovery," he said.

"So I fail to understand why in Davos those who come here should have concern for India. They should have concerns domestically too."

"India can take care of itself I can assure you," he insisted.

BBC journalist Nik Gowing had said during the session that he had detected anxiety in Davos from international bosses about India, and that: "India has been downgraded in their minds as a safe place to do business."

Sharma sharply disputed that impression.

"I don't think so and I pity those who have that perception," he said.

"I consciously use the word 'pity': either they are not adequately informed or it's become trendy if one person or two people say there are worrisome developments, ...everybody starts talking the same."

Sharma cited examples of scandals in the West, including the collapse of Enron and tabloid excesses at the News of the World to bolster his case that his country was not doing worse, and probably doing better, than the West.

"It's a long list by the way, so why pick on India when at least here there are systems to fix them?" he demanded.

The minister put up such a testy defence that when a member of the audience asked about the lack of toilets and housing in the country, he prefaced his question saying: "I hope the minister won't slap me now."

Sharma's repled: "I am Gandhian, I don't believe in talking about slaps."