India government business charm offensive falls flat

India's government is appealing to corporate leaders to "keep the faith" as it struggles to revive a staggering economy, but the reply from business is they need more than talk to win back their support.

Business confidence in the Congress party-led government has nosedived, with growth at a decade-low of five percent, stubbornly high inflation, a ballooning deficit, policy drift and a string of corruption scandals.

The disenchantment is even more worrying for Congress with 2014 polls looming and business hailing corporate-friendly opposition leader, Narendra Modi, the Gujarat state chief minister, as a potential prime minister.

Premier Manmohan Singh, seeking to woo back the key corporate constituency, conceded in a speech to the annual meeting of India's biggest industry group last week there was a need for a "corrective strategy" to jumpstart growth.

"Keep the faith and partner with the government in our effort" to put the economy back on track for high growth, said Singh, considered the father of 1990s market reforms that unleashed a two-decade economic boom.

"We grew at an average eight percent in the last 10 years and we can get there again," Singh, who has been in power since 2004, told the Confederation of Indian Industry on Wednesday.

But Singh's commitments to further open up the still heavily regulated economy, dismantle investment roadblocks and slice through India's infamous red tape drew yawns from his audience who said they were tired of promises.

"It's like Rip Van Winkle who has woken up after nine years and recognised past failures," said Ravi Chaudhry, chairman of Delhi-based business strategy consulting firm CeNext Consulting and Investment.

"Nobody has confidence, his words are not confidence inspiring," Chaudhry said. "This all happened under their watch."

Congress has been losing capital, especially during its second stint in power which began in 2009, among both domestic and foreign investors who have been seeking opportunities elsewhere.

The party wheeled out a string of top ministers as well as reclusive Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi, often tagged India's prime minister in waiting, at the industry meeting as part of their charm offensive.

Gandhi's appearance, however, left business leaders scratching their heads as he lectured them in a rambling speech about the need to reduce endemic poverty and act with compassion, while failing to provide solutions for low growth.

"The silver lining is they recognise they have slipped up and it is a positive they are doing something now, but they have only 10 months to turn things around," said Kiran Karnik, former president of India's flagship outsourcing lobby group NASSCOM.

Business leaders said they still have high admiration for Singh's economic scholarship. But many say the frail Sikh is not a politician able to deal with an unruly cabinet and navigate the hurly-burly political landscape.

"He's basically an economist. What he says now is not going to change the trend -- people don't have high expectations of the government any more," said another delegate, Anil Sultan.

Still, the potential opposition candidate for premier, Modi, a pillar of the Hindu nationalist BJP, remains a controversial divisive figure for failing to halt deadly anti-Muslim riots that inflamed his state in 2002.

Modi's business popularity stems from clean governance and effectiveness as an economic steward that has made Gujarat a go-to investment destination.

Industrialists such as Sunil Bharti Mittal, Ratan Tata and Anil Ambani have all voiced admiration for Modi -- prompting Congress to draw a parallel with the German corporate sector's fondness for Adolf Hitler in the 1930s.

"The German corporate sector had a similar fascination with a gentleman who was at the helm of affairs there. The implications for the world at large were disastrous," Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said recently.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Subaru XV now priced among sedans
    Subaru XV now priced among sedans

    Motor Image Philipinas (MIP), the authorized distributor of Subaru in the country, has positioned its brand new crossover SUV, the Subaru XV, well within the sedan segment’s price range. This move, according to MIP, was made to give the public an opportunity to experience the brand’s unique automotive technologies by lowering its price. Buyers of […] The post Subaru XV now priced among sedans appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

  • Why online business attracts SMEs?
    Why online business attracts SMEs?

    E-commerce is slowly changing the landscape of the country’s small and medium enterprises, especially in the delivery private and public transport sector. One particular area is how these firms can quickly gather or replace their fleet of vehicles with the help of online shopping made easier by online vehicle ads platform such as Carmudi Philippines—one […] The post Why online business attracts SMEs? appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

  • SE Asia Stocks-Mixed; Thai index slips ahead of economic data

    BANGKOK, May 22 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets were flat to weaker on Friday, with the Malaysia index hitting a more than two-month low and Philippines touching an over one-week low on ... …

  • China says U.S. actions in S.China Sea "irresponsible, dangerous"
    China says U.S. actions in S.China Sea "irresponsible, dangerous"

    By Sui-Lee Wee BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Friday it was "strongly dissatisfied" after a U.S. military plane flew over part of the South China Sea near where China is building artificial islands, and called on the United States to stop such action or risk causing an accident. The Chinese navy issued eight warnings to the U.S. P8-A Poseidon, the U.S. military's most advanced surveillance aircraft, when it conducted the overflights on Wednesday, according to CNN, which had a team on board …

  • 2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift goes to Philippine Arena
    2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift goes to Philippine Arena

    The smell of burnt rubber and screeching tires are some of the highlights that will be seen at the most adrenaline-pumped drifting event of the year—the 2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift Championship series.   Held at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, the event will be the biggest venue in the drifting competition. This is the […] The post 2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift goes to Philippine Arena appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

  • The Richest Senators In The Philippines
    The Richest Senators In The Philippines

    The 2014 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth for politicians and public servants are now available for anyone to … The post The Richest Senators In The Philippines appeared first on iMoney.ph. …

  • PHILIPPINES PRESS-AirAsia Philippines seeks $500 mln valuation for IPO - Inquirer

    The Philippine unit of Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia Berhad is seeking a valuation of at least $500 million for its initial public offering set within the next two years, the Philippine Daily Inquirer ... …

  • Consultant, facing joblessness, claims P5.9-M lotto pot
    Consultant, facing joblessness, claims P5.9-M lotto pot

    A 39-year-old information technology consultant, whose job contract will expire this month, has claimed his share of the 6/45 Mega Lotto’s P17.8-million jackpot in its May 13 draw, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) announced yesterday. “I could not sleep for the past several days, thinking about where I could get the money to pay my children’s tuition,” the winner told PCSO general manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II when he received a check for P5.9 million at the PCSO’s central …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options