India's IT industry succeeded because the government did not interfere, which is the approach the Indian government should adopt for other sectors too, says Jamshed J Irani, director, Tata Sons.
Speaking at the Commonwealth Business Council India UK Business Leaders Forum in London, he said the Indian government should step back and allow greater private participation in the daily life of the country.
On India's infrastructure needs, he said: "In some areas we have made progress, such as telecom, but we haven't made any progress in roads and our main problem is electric power."
He, however, added that considering the compulsions of coalition politics, the Manmohan Singh government was making progress in the power sector. "Ten years ago, it was a false start. But now the government seems more sincere and is serious about solving this problem."
On public-private participation (PPP) in the infrastructure sector, he said: "PPP is a solution but would not solve all the problems. The railway ministry has invited private participation in container traffic. It's a new move. Most of our infrastructure will need more investment from outside India. Indian government is working on it".
Other speakers at the meeting said that Indian businesses were now looking to expand into the vast Indian heartland, and many of them were setting up links with British companies to carry out the expansion.
Sunil Mittal, chairman and group managing director of Bharti Enterprises, spoke about his dream to turn India into the country that will feed the world. Mittal's company has moved into the global fruit and vegetable market in a joint venture with a unit of British finance group Rothschild.
Max India Ltd chairman Analjit Singh spoke about taking primary care into rural India. The focus, Singh said, was on innovation in agricultural processing technology. "India will be converted into a sourcing base to feed the world by producing fresh vegetables and serve the entire world community," he promised.
Mohan Kaul, CBC director general, said: "Organising commercial farming needs lots of investment which is beyond the means of most Indian farmers. Refrigeration, transportation, containers and fast connections demand money and Mittal's investing in technology of movement of goods and storage will change the agri business in India."