Narendra Modi best person to bring about change, but it can’t be at pace people expect, says economist Jagdish Bhagwati

  • On Thursday, SJM and a few senior Sangh Parivar leaders reportedly held a meeting with the representatives of Walmart and Amazon in the US

  • The popular rhetoric was that SJM was not in favour of anything that wasn't Indian, said Ashwani Mahajan at a meeting with investors, ecommerce and other sectors of economy in New York

  • The SJM clarified that it wants foreign companies coming to India to be law-compliant

Noted Indian-born American economist Jagdish Bhagwati said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should open up the economy more as the country needs more investment.

Bhagwati, one of the most influential economists of his generation, said this to CNN-News18's Bhupendra Chaubey in the US on the sidelines of Modi's visit.

"Modi is the best person to bring about change. The pace can't be what people expect," said Bhagwati.

On Thursday, national co-convenor of Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) Ashwani Mahajan and a few senior Sangh Parivar leaders reportedly held a meeting with the representatives of Walmart and Amazon in the US on the sidelines of Modi's visit to the US.

The the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been vociferous about a slew of measures taken by the Modi government, which the organisation felt was not in favour of Indian farmers, workforce and industry.

 Narendra Modi best person to bring about change, but it can’t be at pace people expect, says economist Jagdish Bhagwati

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

The idea behind the meeting was to seek solutions to revive investors' sentiment and enhance foreign investment in the country. It was also an attempt to remove the perceived negativity that RSS was against foreign investment in India.

"We are a progressive organisation and not retrograde," clarified Mahajan to investors, e-commerce players and others in a meeting held in New York on Thursday.

The popular rhetoric, he said, was that SJM was not in favour of anything that wasn't Indian and also foreign investments coming to India. However, that's not true, he said.

The SJM, the economic wing of RSS, clarified that what it was insistent for the companies coming to India to be law-compliant. "We have seen that with deep pockets they (the companies) circumvent the law," he said.

With regard to the Walmart-Flipkart deal, the SJM vehemently opposed it and stood against US giant Walmart's entry into India. "The entry of Walmart means the end of farmers, small traders and manufacturers, who are already under stress,” Mahajan has said then.

"(Foreign) companies can come to India. But the indigenous industry, setups and small workforces here should not be impacted," reiterated Mahajan.

'India's position on RCEP a meek surrender'

Mahajan also raised concerns over reports suggesting that India has accepted suggestions of other countries regarding rules on investments at Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) meet, reported ANI.

He even said that the move was contrary to the stated position of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. Calling the move as "disturbing", the SJM co-convenor said that the details coming in public domain suggest that the provisions are not only "detrimental" to the interests of the economy, but are also contrary to the stated position of NDA regime.

"These provisions are a meek surrender of the sovereign rights of any country to seek the transfer of technology from the investing companies, training to their domestic partners, and removing the cap on the quantum of royalties which domestic companies can pay to their foreign partners," he said in a statement.

He stated that the conglomerates from South Korea, Japan and even China will gain, while India is bound to lose in this.

"This is ante to the spirit of NDA regime's ambitious ‘Make in India’ plan, and for the integration of domestic industry with the global supply chain," he said.

Walmart-Flipkart deal

Walmart Inc's acquisition of 77 percent stake in Flipkart for about $16 billion (Rs 1.05 lakh crore) is the largest e-commerce deal which gives the US retailer access to the Indian online market that is estimated to grow to $200 billion within a decade.

The RSS-affiliated SJM had alleged in 2018 that Walmart was circumventing rules for a back-door entry into India with its majority stake acquisition of Flipkart.

"We are against the FDI in retail in principle, Walmart takeover of Flipkart and practices of MNCs. If you follow the law of the land, we have no objection," Mahajan clarified in the round table in New York.

Monsanto and BT-Cotton

In February 2018, SJM had requested the government to remove Rs 49 royalty on genetically modified (Bt) cotton seeds, using Bollgard-II (BG-II) technology of the US seed major Monsanto.

In 2017, the SJM had alleged that seeds multinational Monsanto has collected nearly Rs 7,000 crores by exploiting cotton farmers in the country.

Monsanto had offered the Bt Cotton seed patent to the government for one-time payment of Rs 18 crore, SJM claimed adding the company has now collected nearly Rs 7,000 crores from poor cotton farmers.

Accusing Monsanto of running false propaganda for the last 15 years, the RSS affiliate said the firm tries to circumvent these profits by speaking about improvement in cotton yields in India.

But this is actually due to the hard work of the Indian farmers and the local germplasm of cotton, which is unique to India, SJM had said.

Chinese firms

The SJM had cautioned that India was being overdependent on Chinese firms in the telecommunication sector. Mahajan had termed it as a security risk in an interview with Business Today.

"Swadeshi Jagran Manch fully supports the call for indigenisation and Swadeshi as Indian companies have the full panoply of capabilities to build a 100 percent indigenous network", Mahajan said.

With inputs from Sanjay Singh

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Updated Date: Sep 27, 2019 14:50:02 IST