The economy has come a long way since the 90s
Business organisations outside India are aware that our economy and politics have come a long way from Rao to Narendra Modi
A delegation from Uttar Pradesh, which recently travelled to Europe to attract investment, was pleasantly surprised — nearly every industrial group there displayed a strong interest in India. It is obvious that the attitude of western nations is changing.
Against this backdrop, I recall an evening in 1991 when I got a chance to listen to a member of such a delegation. Together with then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, we were in Bonn.
During that trip, a meeting with Germany’s top businessmen was organised. Unsettling queries were raised there. According to German business leaders, the main obstacles were infrastructure, workplace culture and the attitude of bureaucrats. This didn’t discourage Rao in the least. He knew the doors of the Indian economy, which he had opened with the help of Manmohan Singh, would attract investors in droves — if not then, definitely later.
Business organisations outside India are aware that our economy and politics have come a long way from Rao to Narendra Modi.
I discussed this with an economics pundit at a New Year’s party last year. While it is true that we have made significant progress over the past 30 years, he said, we shouldn’t get overly excited about it. Today, a sizeable number of Indians are relocating abroad. More than 1.6 million people, including some millionaires, have done this during the past 11 years.
By October 2022, more than 183,000 Indians had renounced Indian citizenship. For the majority of them, the United States (US), Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom (UK) were the top choices. India has the second highest rate of millionaire migration, right behind nations such as Russia and China. More than 33,000 millionaires from these three countries left their homes last year. This number might rise substantially this year. It is vital to note that people from all over the world, including the US and the UK, are obtaining citizenship in other nations for a variety of reasons.
Is this pattern worrying?
According to Henley & Partners, India won’t have any issue with this as more Indians would eventually join the millionaire club than the ones who renounce citizenship. By the end of this decade, their numbers could rise by as much as 80%. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures also confirm this.
Another question is: Do folks settling abroad contribute anything to our economy? Should it be regarded as an example of brain drain?
According to statistics, expatriates send money to their family members and organisations that help the arts, education, religion and other societal causes. There are 30 nations globally where remittances in GDP are greater than 10%.
Migrants contribute 29% to Tajikistan’s economy and 33% of Kyrgyzstan’s overall GDP. Expatriates contribute 10% to the GDP of the Philippines. When it comes to India, up until last December, remittances to our country’s coffers surpassed $100 billion. In this field, we are indeed at the top.
Also, when migrants return, they do so with fresh skills and knowledge that help their native country. Such outstanding people are many.
Could we have envisioned Independence and the abolition of sati without Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Raja Ram Mohan Roy?
It is also important to remember that the Indian diaspora contributes significantly to our economy. For example, Vedanta Group recently laid the foundation for a semiconductor chip manufacturing business in Gujarat. This unit is to begin manufacturing by the end of next year.
This would reduce our industries’ reliance on China, and around 100,000 people will get direct or indirect jobs. Vedanta has also stated that another chip facility will be built soon. Anil Agarwal, the company chairman, used to do business in Patna and is now one of the three richest persons in the UK. There are numerous such names.
Those who settle abroad and lose links with India after a generation or two also serve India’s interests. Rishi Sunak, Kamala Harris, Alok Sharma, Priti Patel, Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella, Parag Agarwal, Shantanu Narayan, Leena Nair, Amartya Sen, Abhijit Banerjee, the late Pandit Ravi Shankar, and hundreds more have all made significant contributions to improving the world’s perception of India. With their brilliant deeds, they helped dispel the myth that India is a country of snake charmers. We should pledge to advance this admirable goal in the new year.
Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan The views expressed are personal