NEW YORK: Leading US dailies have described India’s decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail and aviation as “biggest economic reforms” in two decades, while apprehending these proposals pose a “big political risk” for the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led UPA government.
‘The New York Times’ said Dr Singh’s Congress-led government is “under heavy pressure to kick-start India’s slowing economy, boost employment and improve the country’s shambolic infrastructure” and allowing major foreign brands like Walmart into the country is a step in that direction. The leading US newspaper said the decision of the government to open the retail, aviation and broadcast sectors to foreign investment is “the biggest economic reforms in two decades” but the plans will continue to “stir controversy, and it was not clear whether the government’s shaky coalition would hold together long enough to carry them out”. It said slowdown in the country’s economic growth and sense of impending political collapse prompted the government to finally act on “long-pending proposals” to loosen market restrictions in hopes of luring more foreign investment and expertise. “Singh is taking a big political risk with the economic proposals, which could end up breaking up his governing coalition,” it said. ‘The Washington Post’, which had earlier this month described Dr Singh as a “silent” prime minister and “dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government”, said the reforms announced by him “are the biggest and arguably toughest economic reforms since Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh took over in 2004”.
“After being on the defensive for two years over slowing economic growth, high inflation and growing corruption scandals, India’s coalition government finally appeared determined to make tough decisions this week,” The Post said.
‘The Wall Street Journal’ described the reforms as “a dramatic push to reverse the nation’s economic decline and boost capital flows from overseas”. It said “resistance to the measures is likely to be fierce, and even if they stick, foreign investment won’t necessarily flood in”.
“Still, the steps have the potential to open the door significantly wider for foreign companies looking to capitalise on India’s vast consumer market,” it added. PTI