January 2014 \ Interviews \ Interview—Business Chamber
“Despite global slowdown, the India story remains strong”

Interview with Dr A. Didar Singh, Secretary General, Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

  • Dr A. Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI

Dr A. Didar Singh has completed over a year as Secretary General, FICCI, an organization that will be partnering the Government for the second year in a row to host the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. As someone who served as Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Dr Singh mixes his experience and background with the Indian Diaspora with deep insights in policy making within the Government. In his leadership role in FICCI, he is able to throw light on how Indian industry can benefit through an intensified engagement with global investors. He speaks to Sayantan Chakravarty, Editor and Publisher, India Empire

You have completed one year at FICCI. This will be the second PBD that FICCI will be involved in since you joined. What are the value-adds you think that are being brought in to this PBD?
PBD as you are all aware is the flagship event of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. It is already an established brand. It is no more an event, it is actually a continuous movement. It is a movement that basically connects and enhances the engagement of diaspora with India. That engagement has various parts to it—it can be political, social, economic, and, therefore, related to finance and investment. FICCI as an organization works at all levels internationally, including with diaspora bodies, and is, therefore, able to bring in that extra connect to the event. FICCI has good organizational capabilities—it organizes over 300 events each year. The PBD is one more event where we are able to showcase and bring forth the very best of FICCI in terms of organization skills, and to ensure that the event passes extremely smoothly. We did the Kochi event last year and it went very well.

Invest India, a partnership between FICCI and Government, is involved in the organization of the first Global Indian Business Conference. What is the message that can go out to Global Investors at this point …
The message to global investors is that India is an ongoing and important story. Despite the slowdown of the economy first at the global level, then at the Asian level and South Asian level, the India story remains very strong. And why does it remain strong?—firstly, we are one of the largest markets in the world, you cannot ignore a 1.2 billion strong market. Secondly, our fundamentals remain extremely strong as a country, our policies are in place and have been that way for several years. The opportunity, therefore, in this kind of a market is very high and as I say to investors, when you come in on the downswing your benefits during the upswing are that much higher.

What are those core sectors in India, according to you, that need plenty of collaboration for growth in India?
The most important requirement of India really is manufacturing. Yes we have done extremely well in the services sector in the last few years with IT leading the charge. But we have to become strong in the manufacturing sector because that is where the jobs will come from. Being the youngest nation in the world, with a huge population of youth and a requirement of providing almost 100 million jobs in the next 5-10 years, we must be able to bring in more manufacturing into the country. That is the sector that will provide the jobs. It is the most important sector where we need investment, where we need the upsurge. But to be able to have that upsurge, we need the infrastructure. We must be able to improve in that area. There is a huge opportunity in infrastructure, simply because there is so much of requirement. Also, we look at this potential for investment because of the ease of doing business in India. It is a very important feature which FICCI works at with several state Governments and Central Government.

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