Lord Paul urges India to improve manufacturing

London, May 10, 2004

India cannot become a rich nation on the basis of its service sector alone, but will have to improve its manufacturing industry and make world-class products to compete in the international market, Lord Swraj Paul, leading non-resident Indian industrialist has cautioned.

"The country is not going to get rich in hi-tech alone, that too clearly in servicing industry. But it has given Indians hope and confidence that they are becoming part of the world," he said, participating in BBC World's Talking Point programme with India's Ambassador to the United Nations, Vijay Nambiar, on Sunday night.

"India has to improve its manufacturing industry -- that thing is coming. We have to make world-class products. At the moment, China has become the manufacturing centre for the world," the chairman of Caparo Group of Industries said.

Lord Paul, who is also Britain's business ambassador, said: "India can easily compete with China or combine with China because there is every possibility of making products competitive. Look at the car component industry in India. It is doing extremely well."

Answering a specific question on "India in a decade," Lord Paul, co-chairman of the India-United Kingdom Round Table, said, "I am a very strong believer. This is an opportunity for India. It should really go in full gusto to get the country in a proper shape.

"In my view, in 10 years time, it will either be a developed country or it would have lost its chance and people can feel sorry for it. But I think, there is a good chance, it will make it."

Replying to a question on the economic reforms in India, Lord Paul said though the reforms started in 1990, it was only during the last 4 to 5 years that it had picked up.

"India put its heart in it only during the last 4-5 years. I congratulate Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his government. They have taken the bull by the horn," Lord Paul said.

He said they started the work in 1990 because they were in difficulties. In the last 4-5 years Vajpayee and his government decided India must play its role in the world and bulk of that credit has to go to the Indian community abroad.

"They have shown to the world that Indians are capable of achieving results. This movement was started in the Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley was controlled by Indians," he said.

Describing President A P J Abdul Kalam and Vajpayee as world leaders, he said they were ideal people to find solutions to problems facing the country. When a questioner pointed out about the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in India, Lord Paul said: "The country is secular and it is the maturity of the voters that it has not voted a fundamentalist party to power. People of India have voted with their mind."

Asked whether India should have gone nuclear instead of using the $15 billion spent for it for the betterment of the poor, Lord Paul said it was a debatable question.

"I don't agree with nuclear explosion whether in India, Pakistan, United States or France. I am against it. However, when a country decides that it is good enough for it and not good enough for another country, it is very wrong. We have to stop nuclear explosions all over the world."

On the current phase of Indo-Pak relations, Lord Paul said the two countries would have to resolve their disputes. "I found during my meetings with Vajpayee and (Pakistan President) Pervez Musharraf that there is a genuine desire on their part" to find solutions to the problems.

He also said different standards are adopted for different countries while tackling terrorism and human rights and sought to know what the Amnesty International has done in dealing with the human rights violations in Iraq.