London: Cautioning policy makers in India against launching "half-hearted" reforms, leading NRI industrialised Lord Swraj Paul has said inconsistency, rather than rejection was the greatest enemy of reform.
Inaugurating a conference on 'Indian Power Brands' here, Lord Paul, Chairman of the Caparo Group, played down fears that opening up the economy would harm local interests, saying the Indian entrepreneur was the best protection against what many in India perceive as a new form of economic imperialism.
The debate over economic reforms was revived in India after the government's recent decision -- and subsequent rollback -- to allow greater FDI in retail.
"Faint-hearted and half-hearted reform is more discouraging than outright opposition. This is something that policy-makers must realise," Lord Paul said.
Noting that "we are at a moment in history where, it seems to me, we are re-designing the world," he said the dominant academic and political architecture of recent decades -- liberal democracy and faith in free markets -- is in "deep trouble".
At the same time, he noted, that an unprecedented shift was taking place in the global economic balance with the shift of economic momentum from the West to the non-Western world.
"These are trends and developments of historic proportions," he said.
He cautioned that "unless we can shape a more effective way of organising our societies, we will have a world in confusion - and confusion is the seedbed of dangerous and violent upheavals".
Referring to India, Lord Paul said "whatever our short-term ups and downs may be", India was well positioned to provide leadership in the present situation - and receive many benefits in the process.
"Perhaps this will also enable us to satisfy a great Indian yearning - to give something to the world," he said.
He said Indian democracy has, with all its shortcomings, provided over half a century of stability that others yearn for and a de-centralised political framework with considerable authority to state governments was in keeping with the modern desire to localise decision-making and increase participation.
"Today the agent of decentralisation, the engine that will make it work more effectively, is a vibrant and expanding network of non-governmental organisations - thousands of groups involving citizens, demanding transparency and increasingly monitoring the working of public institutions and authorities," he said.
According to him "the Indian entrepreneur, whether in India or abroad, is the best protection India has against what many fear - a new type of economic colonialism".
"An important part of all this is the freedom to exchange ideas - an area in which India is a world champion and a sharp contrast with other countries that have been attracting foreign investment in recent years".
Lord Karan Bilimoria, founder Chairman of Cobra Beer and President of the UK-India Business Council said it was only a matter of time "before we have global Indian brands" while expressing disappointment at the recent decision on FDI.
According to him Foreign Direct Investment in retail would have helped farmers and would not have affected the 'kirana shops'.
In spite of the setback, he said "India will ultimately succeed".
Lord Meghnad Desai lamented the fact that "right now there is no leadership in India" and there was "deficiency in governance".
He said he wanted a government of consensus in India.
"The only issue is how to make India a great country and how to eliminate poverty".
Raman Roy, Chairman and Managing Director at Quatrro BPO Solutions said IT in India would grow substantially from the present USD 50 billion business to USD 250 to 270 billion business in the next ten years.
"India's IT revolution is irreversible," he said.