‘Young Indians have ambitions of the sort that their parents never had’

U.S. President Barack Obama said this week that India was dragged “kicking and screaming into the world marketplace,” a necessary step for it to succeed in absorbing its young workforce and realising their ambitions as the country moved towards “underwriting” the global order.

Commenting on the recent emergence of the BRICS Bank of emerging world powers, Mr. Obama said in an interview with The Economist magazine some generational shifts needed to take place, of the type that happened in India where “much of the leadership in [its government] came of age when [the country] had very different attitudes towards the global economic system.”

His comments come less than two weeks after India refused to sign off on the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) worked out in Bali last year, citing its concerns about the impact that the deal could have on India’s food security via curbs on minimum support price.

Mr. Obama particularly noted with regard to Brazil, India and other developing countries, “If you think about somebody like former Prime Minister Singh of India really dragging this massive, incredibly complicated but incredibly innovative society kicking and screaming into the world marketplace, and below him, though, you’ve got an entire bureaucracy that… may have been schooled by economists who were experts on dependency theory but not necessarily on how are we going to unleash innovation.”

He further said that young Indians were seeing what was possible through the Internet and had ambitions of the sort that their parents and grandparents never had, and thus “the only way to meet those expectations is to dive head first into a global system that is organised, that is fair, that is transparent.”

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