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Home > Business > PTI > Report

Kamal Nath makes a point with 'fat cows'

H S Rao in London | December 14, 2007 19:12 IST

"Here are the fat cows living on subsidised food... and the legs are giving way," is how Commerce Minister Kamal Nath has put India's case during the world trade talks as it battles the developed countries that are adamant on their protectionist agriculture policies.

Launching his book India's Century in London, Nath, a seven-time MP told an audience compromising top industry honchos that he wants to provide "understanding for business people and global policy makers attempting to formulate strategies for forging a mutually beneficial engagement with India in the 21st century."

Citing some of the interesting episodes he came across during his negotiations on Doha round of WTO talks, the minister said he travelled once with EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson from Paris to Brussels by train to have a look at the countryside.

"I saw very fat cows fed on subsidised food and they can't stand on their legs. I told Mandelson that is my story. That is my story and that is my argument." Speaking in a lighter vein, Mandelson described Nath as a "friend, co-negotiator and conspirator."

As an economic power, India has yet to arrive, he said.

"In 1930, India was the second biggest economy of the world, next only to China. India is getting there, but not quite arrived. It could go a little faster. It can become a superpower if it removes the handbrake on its progress."

Present on the occasion were Mukesh Ambani, Chairman Reliance Industries [Get Quote], Sunil Bharti Mittal, CEO of Bharti Enterprises, Lakshmi Mittal, CEO ArcelorMittal, besides the Indian High Commissioner to the UK and Commonwealth Secretary General-elect Kamlesh Sharma.

The minister said the book is on how an ancient civilization is transforming itself as a modern economy and the challenges it faces in the process. It traces the country's stupendous rise from being a British colony to an economic powerhouse today.

"India is the fastest growing free market in the world which wants to play by the global rules of the game." Nath said there were fears of the unknown when India first introduced reforms in 1992. While those fears are no longer there, today's challenges are that of two Fs -- Fuel and Food-- and the prices of both are rising. He said today 15 million people are moving from having one meal a day to two meals a day and millions are moving from two wheelers to four wheelers.

"These are challenges of growth." Delivering the key note address on Celebrating Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century, Lakshmi Mittal said from many perspectives, the century is exciting. Noting that Entrepreneurship is a state of mind, Mittal said "it is about preventing stagnation by challenging traditional thinking."

Describing Kamal Nath as someone who has shown entrepreneurship in the political arena, Mittal thanked him for the strong show of support last year when Mittal Steel faced strong opposition while bidding for Arcellor. "Kamal Nath understood that this opposition actually was related to a lack of understanding of Mittal Steel and details of the merger but it could be perceived as a negative sentiment against India.

"He recognised that if our deal was unsuccessful this could create long-term problems for Indian companies wanting to do business elsewhere in the world." Mittal said.

Mittal said the acquisition will have a long lasting beneficial impact for Indian business Mukesh Ambani said India's growth story is unstoppable. The world wants to engage with India for its market and talent. "We in the industry are committed for job creation in the rural areas" he said, adding, "it is for all of us to make 21st century, India's century."

He described Kamal Nath as a political leader with a very modern mind and a vision.

"Dealing with Kamal Nath is like playing a 20/20 cricket match. His book is futuristic essay on India and the world."

Other leading lights present included Vijay Mallya, chairman of the United Brewaries and Kingfisher Airlines, Naresh Goyel, chairman of the Jet Airlines, Arun Sarin, chairman of Vodafoned, S P Hinduja and G P Hinduja, chairman and president respectively of the Hinduja Group, Lord Navnit Dholakia, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, Peter Mandelson, British commissioner of the European Union for Trade.

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