02 October, 2020

In Nervous Anticipation

The American industry reps are assuaged but not assured about the new government's policy intent

In Nervous Anticipation
Union commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath, barely warm in his new seat, had a tough job at hand—to play doctor and calm jittery American executives fretting over the future of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's economic policies. Questions about reforms, the pace, the pressures, privatisation, and, above all, the Communists, had induced anxiety attacks in the business class here. But Nath, frank and witty, tried to deliver the medicine of trust and optimism via video to the worried lot who weigh every prescription from New Delhi carefully. He promised a "host of privatisation" opportunities, expanded expenditure in health and education, minimal interference, and a conducive atmosphere for foreign investors. He admitted the problems (infrastructure), invited suggestions and said his ambition was to make his ministry "irrelevant" by creating a sound, fair and transparent system.

His audience of nearly a hundred executives gathered for the 29th annual meeting of the US-India Business Council (USIBC), the creme de la creme of American investors in India,...


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