Look at India with a positive framework: Praful Patel
Asserting that nobody could ignore the potentiality and growth prospects of India because of its size and population, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel has asked British investors to look at the country with a positive framework and participate in its rapid development.
Speaking on "Indian Infrastructure - The Way Forward" at a one-day conference organized by the India Business Forum at the London Business School last evening, Patel said, "There is a change in the mind-set. The world's focus towards India cannot be ignored."
Patel said India was not having dearth of capital. "We would like to invest overseas. India has large amount of money which has not been put to good use."
"As a government we are committed to reforms but it has to be inclusive. The interest of close to 300 million people, who have not been benefited from the reforms, have to be looked after," he said.
Answering a question on Left parties pressurising the government to slow down the reforms, Patel said "inspite of everything, the fact remained that there was not a single strike in the last three years."
Listing steps taken by the Indian government for improving the infrastructure including power, roads, aviation, sanitation, shipping and transport, he said the country has a "vibrant private-public partnership" policy.
Patel said it was for the first time, a committee on Infrastructure development, headed by the Prime Minister has been formed. The Prime Minister's office is monitoring implementation of projects in seven key infrastructural areas.
The committee estimates that India's infrastructure sector alone can absorb more than $150 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) over the next five years. India's total FDI inflow in 2006 was $11 billion and bringing in $30 billion a year in infrastructure alone will be a radical step in the economic reforms process.
To a question, he said, "The bidding for the Mumbai and Delhi airports by international consortiums was done in a very transparent way."
Referring to the sea-change that has taken in the Civil Aviation sector, Patel said just two years ago there were only 135 passenger aircraft catering to one billion population. "Today we have placed the largest order for aircraft as aviation sector has expanded significantly."
He said there was tremendous scope for development of tourism in India. "We have Himalayas, beaches, historical monuments, jungles, cultural centres and scores of tourist spots. A time has come for developing tourism," Patel said.
He observed that small countries like Dubai and Singapore attracted four times more tourists than India.
Asked which system he preferred, the Communist system in China or the Democratic system in India, Patel said, "I am a product of democratic system and I would not get into the India-China debate."
Answering a question on Judiciary and delay in pronouncement of judgments in India, the minister said, "India has a very sound legal framework, though there is a case for reform and faster judicial process, particularly at lower courts."
Replying to a question on the pace of reforms, he said the direction of reforms can not be reversed and pace of reform can always be debated.