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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Modi reveals plan to attract foreign investment into India

'Make in India' campaign is also designed to boost manufacturing.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, centre, gestures at the 'Make in India' campaign. Adnan Abidi / Reuters
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, centre, gestures at the 'Make in India' campaign. Adnan Abidi / Reuters

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi yesterday unveiled an ambitious campaign to develop the country into a manufacturing powerhouse and attract more foreign investment, in a move which was welcomed by business leaders in India and the UAE.

The plan, called “Make in India”, came ahead of Mr Modi’s visit to the United States which begins tomorrow, as he strives to boost global investment into India and revive economic growth.

Doing business in India will become much easier, Mr Modi promised.

“A lot of Indian businesses and entrepreneurs recognise the fact that as China keeps going up the value chain there could be potential to make a lot of competitive products in India,” said Niranjan Gidwani, the deputy chief executive of Eros Group, a consumer electronics distributor and retailer based in the UAE. “India can and does have the potential to make its mark in many more sectors.”

Mr Modi outlined that the development of India’s manufacturing sector would create employment, help to lift Indians out of poverty and boost the spending power of citizens.

“We do not want any industrialist being forced to leave India,” he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Mr Modi, came to power in May following a campaign based on promises to boost the country’s economy and improve the business environment.

It is widely agreed that India needs to achieve economic growth levels of about 8 per cent to create enough jobs, with a population of more than 1.2 billion. The forecast for growth this year is only around 5.5 per cent, according to the Asian Development Bank.

The government is grappling with a difficult scenario, as infrastructure development and economic growth have been flagging over the past couple of years. On Wednesday, a further blow came as India’s top court cancelled more than 200 coal licences, which has resulted in concerns over power shortages and metal production.

The audience at Mr Modi’s speech in New Delhi – which included India’s richest business tycoon Mukesh Ambani, who is the chairman of Reliance Industries, and the Tata chairman Cyrus Mistry – applauded and smiled as Mr Modi said that FDI (foreign direct investment) stood for “first develop India”.

“Such steps will help in creating more jobs and skilled manpower at the ground level for the Indian people,” said BR Shetty, the managing director and chief executive of UAE Exchange. “As an Indian myself, I have been most passionate to support such initiatives. We have been looking at investments into India to address the needs of the rural population in the country. We have made significant investments in sectors like health care and financial services to encourage inclusive growth in the country.”

Ajay Kumar, the chairman and managing director of Fox Petroleum, based in New Delhi, which is an associate company of Fox Petroleum FZC in the UAE, said that Mr Modi had “fired the best weapon of economic development and growth”.

“He has given a red carpet for global players to invest in India,” Mr Kumar added. “It will boost all sectors of industry – especially for small-scale manufacturing units and heavy industries too.”

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