oppn parties PM at Davos: Much to Do Before Red Carpet

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oppn parties
PM at Davos: Much to Do Before Red Carpet

By Ashwini Agarwal
First publised on 2018-01-25 19:20:04

By putting protectionism right up there with climate change and terror as the three biggest challenges before the world, Prime Minister Modi chose to hit the Western world where it hurts the most. For, the erstwhile champions of globalization, US and its satellite countries, are now putting up trade barriers. When it suited them, they cried hoarse about free movement of goods, services and ideas across national boundaries. They used the WTO to exert pressure on emerging economies to open up their markets. But faced with rising unemployment, Donald Trump now talks of “America First”.

It fits in Modi’s grand vision to have a bigger scale of globalization. Given India’s abundant resources and cheap labour (compared to China where rising aspirations have made labour wages uncompetitive), Modi has been pitching for Make in India. He knows that instead of Indians importing foreign goods for local consumption, it is better to have those goods made in India. It will bring in investments that will create lasting assets, it will generate employment opportunities and it will generate revenues in local taxes.

But there are many internal barriers and issues that, if not addressed properly and with great speed, will derail Modi’s grand vision. Despite tinkering with this or that law, India is still way behind in ease of doing business. The red carpet is nowhere to be seen. Instead there is still red tape all over. Then, the atmosphere of intolerance created by the Hindu right wing is something as bad as terrorism. The infrastructure boom announced three years ago has not taken off. It takes more than just cheap labour and a huge consumer base to attract investment. The sooner the prime minister realizes this the better.