CAIT opposes Prof. Bhagwati's remarks on FDI

Columbia University Jagdish Bhagwati’s statement on the likelihood of Prime Minister Narendra Modi opening up foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail in about a year’s time has stirred up a controversy. The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has issued a statement taking ‘strong exception’ to Prof. Bhagwati’s remarks.

 The CAIT will oppose ‘tooth and nail’ any attempt to open Indian retail sector to FDI, statement said.

 “It is remarkable that a man who has no real knowledge of India on the ground is expressing a view on how the PM should think on the subject… Mr. Bhagwati’s advocacy of FDI in Retail in India is nothing but a reflection of his loyalty to the country of his adoption, and propagating the agenda of the multinationals there,” said CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said in a statement that refers to Prof. Bhagwati as an 80-year old US University professor, emphasing he is a naturalised American citizen who has lived away from India for over 45 years.

 The CAIT statement further said that Prof. Bhagwati’s remarks were aimed at creating unnecessary confusion in the country on the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail.

“The learned professor must do his homework on the PM’s thinking…. He has not taken cognizance of the fact that for the first time in last 67 years, Prime Minister Modi has underlined the importance of small businesses by including more than five crore small business in policy framework of NITI Aayog,” said CAIT National President B.C. Bhartia.


He further said that India needs a well-thought national trade policy aimed at exploiting the capabilities and capacities of Indian retail trade at an optimum level, not ideologically driven academics pushing the globalisation agenda of their adopted countries.


Delivering the Madhavrao Scindia Memorial Lecture for 2015 on Tuesday Dr. Bhagwati said that in his view Mr. Modi’s economic policy was likely to be dominated by scale-ups in trade liberalisation and FDI openness. Going by his past interactions with Mr. Modi, he said he believed FDI in multi-brand retail will be opened up in about a year’s time. “His constituency is much wider than the BJP’s traditional support group of traders… Investors will come to India as hungry dogs with their tongues hanging out as trade and FDI is opened up.”


Several UPA Government Cabinet Ministers including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and P. Chidambaram attended. NDA Government representatives were conspicuous by their absence. Dr. Bhagwati was a huge votary of the Gujarat growth model in the run up to the 16th Lok Sabha elections.


He had also said at the Lecture that with Mr. Modi in-charge, India was again at the cusp of change just as it was in 1991 when his friend of 60 years, Dr. Singh who was Finance Minister then took India in to the second gear. He called the 1991 reforms a revolution and said his prediction was that Mr. Modi will also undertake a revolution like the first one, only at a faster pace. “The second revolution will now take us in to the third gear…Going in to the fourth gear needs flying like James Bond-I don’t think we’ll do that.”

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 8:31:09 PM |

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