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India's image will not suffer: Lord Paul

world Updated: Sep 15, 2007 17:32 IST

India's image as an investment destination would not be sullied if the civil nuclear deal with the US falls apart, NRI business tycoon Lord Swraj Paul has said.

He also felt that except for the people who are going to supply nuclear reactors to India, no one else would be bothered about the fate of the deal.

"I don't think so," he replied to a question on whether India's image as an investment destination would be affected by the controversy over the deal in Karan Thapar's Devil's Advocate programme for CNN-IBN.

Asked how will the western investors and governments look at India if the agreement falls through, he said "I don't think they are going to be bothered about that," according to the excerpts of the interview released by the channel.

"In the nuclear deal, except for the people who are going to supply nuclear reactors, no one would care," Lord Paul said.

He went on to add that "as long as India keeps reforming and reducing bureaucratic work and corruption, it is far more healthy from an investment point of view."

On the stand-off between the UPA and the Left over the deal, the veteran industrialist felt both sides have not been able to "clarify their positions" and wondered whether it was not possible to do that "without raising emotions."

"As far as the nuclear deal is concerned, I don't think people have really understood what India wants out of this and what the US wants. If the idea is nuclear power, how much power is it going to generate as compared to the needs of the country? Lord Paul asked.

"I think the people don't really understand the deal and what is it that the Prime Minister (means when he) says he has no restrictions. The Opposition says you are signing away India to the US. Isn't it possible to clarify the issues without raising emotions? Lord Paul asked.

He said "there is no way you can get everything you want in an agreement like this which can be so different for one country and not for the other."

Pointing out that the real challenge India is facing now is of reforms that target the poor, the leading industrialist also spoke about the need to have better education, health and welfare.

"To me, without that, in a democratic society, you are going to create a time bomb, which is going to explode sooner or later. You cannot have a democracy with a population of a billion where there is so much poverty," he added.

He pointed out that around 30 per cent of children in the country do not even receive primary education while there is a huge shortage of higher education.

"It is marvellous that four-five million graduates come out every year but the percentage of those who get higher education is much smaller than a lot of what developing countries have," Lord Paul said.