The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Atal rhetoric on reform pace

New Delhi, Oct. 17: The Elephant is on the move: it may be slow and ponderous, but when it starts moving it is unstoppable and irreversible. Prime Minister Atal Bihari used the pachyderm metaphor to symbolise the Indian economy and underscored his resolve to push ahead with economic reforms despite the “hiccups people see in our liberalisation process.”

“Our ambitious GDP growth target of 8 per cent exhorts us to stay on this path. There can be no looking back (on economic reforms),” Vajpayee told industrialists while inaugurating the first India-Asean business summit here today. The hiccups that everyone was focusing on was a result of “the democratic process of reconciling divergences and achieving consensus.”

Addressing the summit organised by the Federation Of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), Vajpayee said, “Asean already has a long tradition of industry-government partnerships; we should inject such joint venture endeavours into the India-Asean relationship.”

The commencement of regular summit-level India-Asean dialogue next month will be a new watershed in the growing relationship, he added. India became a sectoral dialogue partner of Asean in 1992, full dialogue partner in 1995 and a member of the Asean regional forum in 1996.

Vajpayee said, “Asia is all set to dominate the politics and economics of this century. The centre of gravity of the world is shifting gradually but decisively towards Asia-Pacific.”

Asia’s bright future lies in its population, market size and growing number of urban centres with world class infrastructure. Fundamentally, however, it is Asia’s human capital which is the core reason of its optimism.

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