04 March 2006

We want your money

It’s not a plea anymore. It’s almost a demand.

Gone are the days when India pleaded for financial aid. When India was the epitome of the Third World, sitting in the corridors of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, offices in Washington DC and other financial institutions with its begging bowl. India of the yesteryears was a country ravaged by over-population, poverty, illiteracy, the caste system and lack of infrastructure.

But all that has changed. India now exports software and technology solutions to the rest of the world. The US, the center of world technology, is its primary market. What’s more, the US has poured in financial capital into our country, helping to set up businesses and R&D centers, as well as welcoming outsourced services. This has created a boom in the country for various industries, generating much-needed jobs for millions. Many more Indians now have money in their pockets to spend on their education and lifestyle… and invest elsewhere.

Our Finance Minister, P Chidambaram, summarises this situation well: “This is a very different India from what we were 20 years ago.” And, I believe him.

What is also interesting to note is the balance of equations this has created between India and the US, and India and the world. No longer is India a country with a begging bowl, but has now evolved into an economic power in its own right, asserting itself with logic and credibility. India’s newfound power comes from India’s pool of talent, which seems to be envied by everyone and is much in demand. India has something the world wants; and it is now on offer at a price that makes doing business with the world not just economically viable, but profitable.

However, there is a caveat. For India, the world may be the market, but India cannot live on talent alone. Talent is only one of the components of business and economic power. And, who knows this best than our very own Finance Minister. And so, he makes it clear to the person who matters most to India at the moment: US President George W Bush. According to a recent BBC news story, Mr Chidambaram told business leaders accompanying President Bush on his visit to India, “Let me tell you, we want your money.” Adding, “I want your technology also. I want your good management policies and good governance norms.”

A little in-your-face maybe, but at least he doesn’t beat around the bush.

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