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Rediff.com  » Business » Pitroda urges America Inc to be patient with India

Pitroda urges America Inc to be patient with India

Last updated on: June 13, 2012 13:03 IST

Pitroda urges America Inc to be patient with India

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC


J
ust minutes after US Senator Mark Warner, the co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, bemoaned the lack of clarity by the Indian government regarding economic reforms, Sam Pitroda, a close adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh exhorted US business and industry to be patient with India, arguing that a coalition government does not lend itself to the kinds of demands US companies are making.

Pitroda, the Prime Minister's Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation Adviser, who was the guest of honour at the gala reception that preceded the US-India Business Council's 37th Anniversary Leadership Summit, said, "I know the demand and the pressure that comes on us in India for reforms, opening up systems, foreign investments, insurance, retail."

"But it is important for us to reflect a little bit on India, to be understanding to really grasp our position."

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Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff

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'We are indeed building a very robust foundation'

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Pitroda, who was part of the high-powered Indian delegation led by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna to the Third US-India Strategic Dialogue, said, "Today, we have a coalition government and I believe this government has done a great deal, but we don't get credit for all the work we have done."

Counseling patience, he asserted, "You don't need rocket science and great brains to understand the demands business puts on us. We are very clear, but when we have a coalition government, we got to keep everybody happy."

Pitroda said, "If we had a very powerful centre, with 200-250 seats, we would be in a different position. Unfortunately, we are just not there. So, we got to satisfy a lot of our partners and they don't see the way we see it."

However, he assured the packed audience of captains of US business and industry, administration officials, Congressional leaders, leading policy makers and media, that "Underneath all of this, we are indeed building a very robust foundation."

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Image: An elite gathering at the USIBC Gala in Washington DC.
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff

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'We would be spending $20 bn to build information infrastructure'

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Pitroda said, "Just to give an idea, based on what little I do, we would be spending $20 billion of government money to build information infrastructure to democratise information. We are building a knowledge network for $3 billion. We are connecting 250,000 local governments to optical fiber -- $6 billion. Building all the software, cyber-security, payment procurement, applications, mainly to use IT to improve governance, education, health and agriculture."

He predicted that "when we are done with all this in the next 24-26 months, we will have the tools to really build a new India. With a focus on transparency, accountability, accessibility, and a lot of this work would require young talent and that's what we are doing."

"Unfortunately, these things take time."

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Image: Sam Pitroda with Ajay Banga.
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff
Tags: Pitroda , India

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'With 550 mn under 25s, India has no options but to grow'

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Pitroda recalled that when former GE chairman and CEO Jack Welch "came to India in 1987, he wanted to meet Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv was busy, so he asked me to speak to Jack and I told Jack then that if you come to India, India will change and GE will also change."

"That's the message to my US business partners today. India is a land of opportunity. India will continue to grow at 8-10 per cent. When you have 550 million young - below the age of 25 - you have no options but to grow."

Pitroda declared, "I am very high on India. I am convinced that India will continue to grow at 8-10 per cent for the next 20-25 years to come," and disclosed that "I've spent almost 30 years working in India, and it is difficult, it is complex, we have our own bureaucracy like you have your own too. But I must tell you, things do happen in India."

'India may look chaotic at the top, but it is pretty calm underneath. Don't get confused with all the chaos that goes around. Things do happen in India," he reiterated.

"So, don't get disappointed with little minor perturbations here or there. Keep your eye on the long-term goal and I can assure you, India is going to be around for at least another 5,000 years."

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Image: Mark Warner, Ajay Banga, Ron Somers.
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff

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'Think from our perspective and a lot of it will begin to make sense'

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Pitroda implored US business and industry, "Hang in there, work with us. Understand us a little better. Don't be too impatient, because we are not where you are. We are in a different time frame. Our needs are different. So, just bend a little bit. Think from our perspective and a lot of it will begin to make sense."

"We are building a nation, and it's a tough task, believe me, specially in a democracy," he added. "But we are upbeat, we look for your support, we look for your understanding and we look for your technology, investment and talent."

Earlier, Pitroda noted that "when I talk to my business friends, I like to remind them that you are worrying about building a company, and we are really focused on building a nation and we have a little bit of a conflict."

"You look at productivity, efficiency, cost-cuts and logic and all of these things. (But) we have a different set of parameters. We got to worry about our diversity, we got to worry about people at the bottom of the pyramid - we have 400 million people at the bottom of the pyramid."


Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff
Tags: Pitroda , US

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