Kamal Nath strikes note of optimism at Davos amid gloomy projections

02 Feb 2009


At the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meet at Davos, commerce minister Kamal Nath struck a note of measured optimism claiming that India would continue to grow at 7-8 per cent during the current financial year. He added that India's recovery would be faster than the rest of the world while projecting growth prospects at the same level as the current 7-8 per cent for the next financial year.

At the five-day meeting of corporate and political leaders, epresentatives from the emerging BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) economies articulated the worries of the developing nations at the same time pointedly referring to the failure of the business models of the West.

Kamal Nath said that history is witness to the fact that whenever countries adopt protectionist policies, it itensifies depression.

He said that a  "disciplined" private sector and an "aspiring" middle class are the engines of India's economic growth, and would  help the country weather the tumultuous times. He added that the aspiring middle class  in India had demonstrated a surprising resilience in counterbalancing the global crisis and the slump in the global export economy.

In an official statement Kamal Nath said that India's IT sector will help sustain brand India as it managed to grow about 20 percent in 2008.

Meanwhile, trade ministers of key WTO member nations met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum conclave and resolved to work out a deal under the much-delayed Doha Round and guard against protectionism.

The Satyam fraud also came up for discussion at the WEF. The  global audience was assured by the Indian government and industry leaders that the fraud was a one-off event and other countries have witnessed bigger frauds.

Planning commission deputy chairman MS Ahluwalia termed the Satyam fraud a 'negative development' but assured that the Indian authorities have taken corrective action. Indian leaders said the country cannot be judged solely on the basis of the Satyam episode.

Analysts point out that Nath's optimism should be taken with a bit of scepticism as P Chidambaram, the then finance minister, had expressed similar confidence during last year's WEF meeting.

They say that it should be clear now that Chidambaram had failed to fully anticipate the full impact of the global financial meltdown and add that contrary to his assessment the effects of the financial crisis in India are more than minor fallouts of the global meltdown.

According to commentators, Nath's confidence at the WEF sounded more like wishful thinking, rather than reasonable appraisal of the reality, in the backdrop of  the gloomy forecast of most other speakers.

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