Opening economy vital to lift people from poverty: Nancy Powell

More reforms are needed for India to return to the near 10 per cent growth, and lift people out of poverty, according to U.S. ambassador Nancy Powell.

“If India is to grow again, support for policies that are necessary for that growth need to be cultivated,” she said.

Addressing a meeting hosted by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry here on Tuesday, she said the road to higher growth would require more economic opening and more foreign investment.

‘GDP not an end in itself’

“Since GDP growth is not an end in its own right, since ultimate growth is to raise standards of living and eradicate poverty, opening the economy and bringing more foreign investment take on a new urgency. You cannot defeat poverty without growth,” she said.

According to her, the growth that happened in India over the last two decades was enhanced by foreign investment.

‘Curb outdated notions’

“It is past time to put to rest those outdated notions that India suffers from economic openness or that India suffers from foreign investment,” Ms. Powell said.

Pitching for foreign direct investment in the insurance sector, she said this simple legislative decision, would help generate resources for improving infrastructure linkages and regional connectivity with Bangladesh and Burma, opening new markets for Indian goods and services eastward.

Ms. Powell felt that U.S.-India relations would continue to grow, no matter what the respective governments do.

Collaboration key for U.S.-India ties

She said the U.S.-India economic relationship of the coming century would be “built on the phenomenal growth of collaboration between people, public institutions and private companies in both countries.”

Ms. Powell, who met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday, said that “while policy headlines may come out of New Delhi and the business headlines out of Mumbai, it is increasingly apparent that what actually happens in India happens outside these two metros.

The deeper economic, political and social movements — the ones that actually determine where this continental nation is heading — they take place in Raipur, Ranchi, Patna, Durgapur, Siliguri and Kolkata,” she said.

Toured plants

A release from the U.S. Department of Commerce said that during her two-day visit to Kolkata, Ms. Powell also toured the Pepsi FritoLay plant and cold storage facilities in Dhulagarh in Howrah district, where she interacted with farmers.

She later visited the Child in Need Institute’s (CINI) Urban Centre, where a roundtable discussion on child and maternal health issues with other Kolkata NGOs was hosted. Ms. Powell also met Governor M.K. Narayanan.

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