The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Call to NRIs to join the party

New Delhi, Jan. 10: The government today asked non-resident Indians to invest in the country — but the pitch for funds was not made with the usual patter about emotional ties with the motherland but rather on the ground that it made eminent business sense.

“The returns on foreign investment in India are one of the highest in the world. Please join the party and make money; this is my appeal to you,” said Ashok Lahiri, chief economic adviser to the government.

Lahiri, who was addressing the NRIs at the three-day jamboree being held here, said India was the second-fastest growing economy in the world after China. He said the Reserve Bank of India had upped its growth forecast for the economy to 7 per cent with an upper bias.

“You need to consider it seriously. Central banks all over the world are conservative with their estimates,” Lahiri said.

He expressed confidence that economic growth would top 7 per cent as industry associations and other organisations sound more positive after India’s 8.4 per cent growth in the second quarter (July-September).

Unlike the Chinese diaspora comprising the business class, Lahiri said the Indian diaspora constituted professionals and technocrats. He invited them to translate their ideas into commercial investments by setting up units in the country and take advantage of huge cost-competitive human resources.

“There is money to be made by building, creating and investing in India. Our internal liberalisation is the key foundation of success. One will see that our share of global trade will also go up phenomenally from the present 0.7 per cent in the next decade,” said Lahiri.

Criticising the attitude of developed nations at the World Trade Organisation talks in Cancun, he said there was a need to make the multilateral trade regime “fair and equitable” by removing distortions.

Speaking on the occasion, Lord Bagri, chairman of the UK-based Metdist Group of companies, said though India had made big strides in opening up its economy, there was still a need to bring about attitudinal changes, particularly in the government.

Highlighting the performance of Indian telecom and automobile sectors, Sunil Mittal, chairman of Bharti Enterprises, said: “While the number of vehicles will record over a five-fold increase from 17 million to 100 million, the number of mobile phones is expected to go up to 100 million from 30 million at present over the next two years.”

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