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The Shekhar Datta Chat

Shekhar Datta, president and managing director, Crompton Greaves, and president, Confederation of Indian Industry, may not have faced as many stinging questions at the various meetings he has chaired as CII chief. Datta retained his cool in the hour-long session with Rediff readers, and did his best to answer as many questions as he possibly could. Read on to find out what he thinks of the Union Budget...

Vasundhara Deb (Tue Mar 18 19:56:18 1997 IST):

Hi guys, where's Mr Datta?

Shankar Nayyar (Tue Mar 18 19:58:24 1997 IST):

Mr Datta, do you think the economic reforms in India will make the country an Asian tiger?

SHEKHAR DATTA (Tue Mar 18 19:59:31 1997 IST):

Everyone: Nice to be here and hope to have stimulating discussion with all of you. Please go ahead and shoot your questions.

GLOBAL CITIZEN (Tue Mar 18 19:59:51 1997 IST):

Hi you Rediff guys is Mr Datta in yet?

Vasundhara Deb (Tue Mar 18 20:00:16 1997 IST):

Mr Datta, where do you think the reforms are headed. Will they be stable or do you see an impending crash?

Bill Grimm (Tue Mar 18 20:00:49 1997 IST):

Has reforms done anything to mitigate the poverty and illiteracy of India of which we read a lot in many western newspapers?

SHEKHAR DATTA (Tue Mar 18 20:00:53 1997 IST):

Shankar: We are certainly on the right track to becoming an economic giant in the next millennium.

Vasundhara Deb (Tue Mar 18 20:01:16 1997 IST):

Indian (Tue Mar 18 20:01:32 1997 IST):

Hello Mr Datta, What do you think about the impact of this budget on FI's in India?

REDIFF ON THE NET (Tue Mar 18 20:01:34 1997 IST):

Hello and welcome Mr Datta. Hope you enjoy the experience.

Sharma (Tue Mar 18 20:03:17 1997 IST):

Mr Datta: How do you think the F.Minister will cover the deficit?? How is CII geared up to deliver the goods to move the economy out of the dumps that it finds itself?? I don't think that fancy seminars result in anything positive. At the end of the day you still have to deliver the goodies. Do you think this will happen??

Manohar Guruswamy (Tue Mar 18 20:03:40 1997 IST):

Mr Datta, don't you think political instability created by the present United Front government has an impact on the growth of India's economy?of

SHEKHAR DATTA (Tue Mar 18 20:04:25 1997 IST):

Bill Grimm: Certainly the direction of the government is towards alleviating the difficulties of the poor and illiterate. However, it is not easy in a country with 950 million of which nearly 50 per cent are illiterate. What we need to do as a country is to understand the enormity of the problem and take it step by step to address the issue of poverty and illiteracy. Reforms are addressing these issues by allocating more resources for health care, literacy, women's education and other social areas like drinking water, hospitals etc. There is confidence that the reforms will successfully address these issues.

Nandini (Tue Mar 18 20:05:30 1997 IST):

Mr Datta, hi! Sorry I missed your coming. Had just stepped out for a sec. But tell me, Is the budget all THAT good? In monetary terms, how much of a big boost is it gonna give the Indian industries?

GLOBAL CITIZEN (Tue Mar 18 20:05:33 1997 IST):

Mr Datta, why is it that the budget proposals in India are talked about so much. Take the case here, in the US. The proposals are finished with and most people don't even care a damn about them.

Vasundhara Deb (Tue Mar 18 20:05:52 1997 IST):

Mr Datta, to the best of your knowledge, how have the Industries reacted to this year's budget?

Trupti Divecha (Tue Mar 18 20:05:59 1997 IST):

How much of an additional load is this populist budget going to add to our already heavy deficit?

Vikram Mistry (Tue Mar 18 20:06:09 1997 IST):

Don't you think bodies like CII and FICCI are being used by big industrial houses to lobby for their cause?

Park Davis (Tue Mar 18 20:06:15 1997 IST):

Hello Mr Datta, I am curious to know about the single window clearance policy being adopted by many states in India, Will it really help in get quick clearances for the projects or it's just for attracting investments?

SHEKHAR DATTA (Tue Mar 18 20:07:18 1997 IST):

Vasundhra Deb: I cannot see the reforms heading for a crash. Whatever gave you this impression? If you take the results of the last five years since 1991, you will realise in all sectors of the economy there has been an improvement. Particularly to be noted is the fact that we now have a consensus amongst the political parties that it is only through economic reforms that the country can progress towards achieving a better quality of life for the masses. We share this view.

Joshi (Tue Mar 18 20:07:31 1997 IST):

Mr Datta: Though I appreciate your step-by-step approach to resolving the grim problems facing the country, but the fact remains that when you take the first step the problem has become worse and so you find yourself running in the same spot. What is a realistic approach if there is any for this doomed country of ours??

Sharma (Tue Mar 18 20:08:21 1997 IST):

Mr. Datta: Pls. answer my question.....

Sharma (Tue Mar 18 20:09:15 1997 IST):

I agree with Vikram Mistry. Mr. Datta, pls. exonerate your organisation from this accusation....

Indian (Tue Mar 18 20:09:59 1997 IST):

Hello Mr Datta, What do you think about the impact of this budget on FI's in India?

Nandini (Tue Mar 18 20:10:20 1997 IST):

Mr Datta, we still haven't had your opinion... In monetary terms, how far is the Chida-budget going to take the Indian industries? Where do you see our industries by 2000?

SHEKHAR DATTA (Tue Mar 18 20:10:50 1997 IST):

Indian: The current budget placed on the floor of the house on 28th February certainly makes foreign investment most welcome. Taxation rate has come down drastically. The tariffs have been reduced. More resources are being allocated for the infrastructure sector. There is tax relief particularly in the areas of telecom and industry parks. And a host of other such attractions. So, I can't but see the foreign investors being attracted to India.

SHEKHAR DATTA (Tue Mar 18 20:13:18 1997 IST):

Manohar: On the contrary, I believe there is general consensus amongst the 13 party coalition in regard to economic policies. The political instability that you talk of is really what you read in the newspapers. But in practice you will see more of political unanimity in reference to economic decisions -- atleast, in the immediate future.

GLOBAL CITIZEN (Tue Mar 18 20:14:22 1997 IST):

Mr Datta, you have not answered my question. Why do Indians make such noise about the budget. There are few countries in the world which worry so much about the budget. Should the stress not be on what concrete (executive) action the government is taking to make the economy better.

Park Davis (Tue Mar 18 20:14:23 1997 IST):

Hello Mr Datta, I am curious to know about the single window clearance policy being adopted by many states in India, Will it really help in get quick clearances for the projects or it's just for attracting investments?

JaisalM (Tue Mar 18 20:14:34 1997 IST):

With the current small tax net so full of holes, don't you think widening it will only render the task more difficult? If the I-T dept officials fall by the wayside getting to all the possible targets, could the tax netted be far below expectations? Would that not affect Chidambaram's big plans?

Ranjit Dalmia (Tue Mar 18 20:14:38 1997 IST):

We have this strange tendency of taking the tiger by the tail and then not knowing how to let go. So we open up the economy without having the requisite infrastructure to support that kind of liberalisation. This budget too has not paid any attention to infrastructure. When do you feel the Indian government will wake up to this pressing need?