Industrialist and Labour peer Swraj Paul was on Tuesday given the Life Time Achievement award for his outstanding contributions in various fields.

He said he wished to dedicate the award, instituted by an Indian company, Powerbrands, to the “ordinary people of India who have so little, but never complained.”

Earlier, speaking at the launch of an international conference of businessmen and media figures, Lord Paul warned against slowing down the reforms process in India saying that “faint-hearted and half-hearted reform” was worse than outright opposition.

“The greatest enemy of reform is not rejection but inconsistency. Faint-hearted and half-hearted reform is more discouraging than outright opposition. This is something that policy-makers must realise,” he said.

He said economic liberalisation was a “long process and we cannot afford to slow the pace”. Once the economy opened up, it would unleash “the innovative and entrepreneurial genius of the Indian people…proving fully equal to any competition anywhere in the world”.

About concerns about foreign investment, he said: “The Indian entrepreneur, whether in India or abroad, is the best protection India has against what many fear – a new type of economic colonialism.”

Lord Paul said that over the past decade, there had been “a remarkable worldwide change in the way India was perceived ---- “from India as a basket case to India as a global power” --- but pointed out that both perceptions were “deceptive”.

“India was never as dreadful and desperate as it was made out to be. After all, India has produced enough food to feed itself for about twenty years – something not many other nations have been able to do,” he said.

No doubt, India had many problems, but these were exaggerated and it became “fashionable to portray India as a lost cause”.

“Now, the reverse is taking place. India has made some remarkable strides forward in the past decade or so. In several areas, the world class potential of India is being realised. But we must be careful not to overdo our enthusiasm. Much has been done, but much more will have to be done if India is to fulfil its capabilities,” he said.