Toronto: Even as critics at home talk about an Indian economic slowdown and policy paralysis, a top Canadian bank is urging investors to enter the Indian market to benefit from the world's second fastest growing economy.

India's economic march is unstoppable and Canada should be a key partner in its growth, said speakers at the roundtable organized by the Bank of Montreal (BMO), one of the top five banks in Canada.

'We believe that the ongoing impressive expansion of the Indian economy will mean continued strong returns for those seeking to invest in its markets,'' said Serge Pepin, head of investments at BMO Investments Inc., at the Canada-India Trade and Investment Media Roundtable.

He said, 'India offers long-term returns on stocks that are as good, if not better, than China 's. India is still quite under-invested. It has the potential for growth that China has already had. There are opportunities for Canadian investors to participate in and benefit from that growth.''

Stressing the importance of ongoing talks between the two countries to sign a free trade agreement, Canada-India Business Council president Rana Sarkar said India and Canada should continue the momentum to reach the deal.

'Eighty per cent of the India of 2030 is not yet built. Something very profound is happening, with growth taking off over the next decade. This is the chance for Canadian investors and businesses to get access to the opportunities this brings,'' Sarkar said.

'We need to pursue the completion of the comprehensive economic partnership agreement between the two countries by 2013. This will allow us to have increased prominence in India and will pave the way for greater mutual prosperity,'' he said.

Sarkar added, 'India is looking at Canada as an enabling partner, not just as a resource provider but also a provider of resourcefulness.  Indian companies are looking to move into places like South America and Africa - they want to know whom they can look to for financing infrastructure for their mining projects. It's Canadians they are looking at.''

Highlighting the huge economic contribution of the Indo-Canadian community, Srini Iyengar, director of multicultural markets at BMO Financial Group, said more and more members of the community in Canada are becoming entrepreneurs.

'A good percentage of high income earners are individuals who run their own businesses. They all bring very high energy and a desire to succeed that's very contagious,'' he said.

(Agencies)