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Check the Foreign Investments

Thursday, May 28, 2009, Aleem Faizee

Where East and West meet: If there is one overarching foreign policy priority for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his second term, it is the long overdue strategic outreach to the Muslim world. A sustained effort to re-engage the major Muslim nations is essential in managing many of India’s... Read Full

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Foreign Fund has always lured the third world countries. However with the beginning of the 21st century the lust in India reached such a level that to attract the foreign investors every political party barring the Left was trying to outdo the other. Not alone the dead units, in the fight resembling the tug-of-war even the profit making Public Sector Units (PSUs) were up for outright sale.


Interestingly at the forefront of these auctioneers were the very people who never lost an opportunity to yell that they were the only nationalists who exist on earth. No matter if we were losing our hard-earned PSUs one by one, they were spellbound watching the Sensex reaching newer heights with every dollar coming in the country. Dr. Mehmoodur Rehman, once PS to BJP veteran Pramod Mahajan, is one among the many people with the view that the Indian Economy cannot be judged from the Sensex level. However the BJP leadership with the glittering stock market portrayed as if the whole country was shining. That they were wrong in their assessment was stamped when they faced the general elections in 2004. Had it not been for some hard decisions taken by the Left on whose support the erstwhile government was resting, the sale would have continued unabated even after 2004.


The auctions were stopped. However the damage was already done. Too much reliance on foreign investors has proved hazardous for the country in the past also. It became evident once again when we saw them fleeing the country with huge amounts. Like a rat would do at the first sight of a cat, they did so while the world was yet to experience the actual upshot of the recession and economic slowdown. Stock market that was roaring at 20000+ points soon came down to such a level where a meager 5000 mark threatened the local investors as a near certainty. By the time the damage was controlled they had lost millions of rupees. Perhaps to check such damaging practices few countries have the rules that bar 100% transfer of the funds earned in their jurisdiction to native countries.


We are not leftist nor their supporter. Neither are we anti-reforms. Nonetheless with a lesson or two from such incidents and our own history we are afraid it doesn’t repeat itself. It merits recalling how East India Company that came to do business initially, established itself on the Indian soil. Also are in our memories the initiatives taken by them to cut to size the local manufacturers to promote, rather push, their own products. Cutting the thumbs and fingers of the poor weavers and artisans are not the kind of incidents one can forget easily. It would be suicidal to assume that the imperialist forces in today’s modern world have changed. Time and again since then the events in the world repeatedly demonstrated that pertaining to the changing world scenario they have taken the new forms but have remained the same. Whoever and wherever one has trusted them, had been deceived and cheated.


Hence inviting the Multi National Companies (MNCs) at the cost of local manufacturers is harmful not only for them individually but also for the country as a whole in the longer run. Negative marketing tactics, immoral and unethical practices are the terms that may sound very harsh. But in at least one case in the country we found the MNCs resorting to such means to hamper the chances of a local manufacturer after failing to compete in quality and price. There is absolutely no guarantee that they would not repeat the same in future.


With the new government taking shape at the centre, this time free from the Left’s dictates, there is every chance that the powerful disinvestment lobby would again take the positions. In fact a glance at few media editorials reveals that they have already started to do so. Highlighting the virtues of foreign investment and pointing at the urgency to raise the funds, they are encouraging the government to begin the disinvestment and privatisation once again. However the new government led by Indian National Congress (INC) that won the general election on the promise of inclusive growth while attracting the foreign investments should also keep in its mind the interests of the local manufacturers. At the same time it should also evolve a comprehensive and effective strategy to utilize the available resources that fortunately are good in numbers. For, it is they who are going to stay with us here in the country unlike the foreign investors who fled with huge money even as many among us were yet to find the exact definition of The Global Recession.

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