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We must check economic meltdown: Advani

CRISIS TALKS: BJP leaders (from left) Arun Shourie, Yashwant Sinha, L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh during a meeting with industrialists (right) at the residence of Mr. Advani in New Delhi on Thursday.

CRISIS TALKS: BJP leaders (from left) Arun Shourie, Yashwant Sinha, L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh during a meeting with industrialists (right) at the residence of Mr. Advani in New Delhi on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: R.V. Moorthy

Sujay Mehdudia

“Country may face an economic emergency and massive loss of jobs unless bold steps are taken”

NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Janata Party’s senior leader and NDA’s Prime Ministerial candidate, L.K. Advani, on Thursday warned that the country could be faced with an “economic emergency,” massive loss of jobs unless it takes strong and bold steps to tackle the impact of the global financial crisis and economic meltdown with full determination and clarity of mind and actions.

Interacting with the captains of the industry here, Mr. Advani said the current economic situation has instilled uncertainty, insecurity and even fear among all sections of society especially among the poor and the middle classes who are ones who face massive loss of jobs. “The current crisis has touched all segments of the economy and the society. It could assume the ``proportions of an economic emergency” unless it is handled with determination, clarity of thought and creative new approaches,” he added.

Mr. Advani had taken the initiative to call the meeting with leading industrialists, weeks after the Prime Minister convened a similar meeting to understand the impact of the U.S.-born economic crisis on India and its industry in particular. The meeting was first in series of consultations planned by the BJP leader to have with various groups on economic matters. ``Real and enduring prosperity in the country could only come by developing the real economy – agriculture, small and large industry, financial sector, manufacturing services and informal sector – in an integrated manner,” he remarked.

On their part, the industry leaders briefed Mr. Advani about the impact of the global slowdown on them — especially the high interest rate regime, credit squeeze and demand recession that has led to the present situation.

Briefing journalists about the meeting, the former Finance Ministers, Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha, said that during the three-hour long meeting the industry covered an entire range of economic situation in the country. It was felt that this was now the time to convert crisis into opportunity in order to guarantee adequate economic security for the citizens of the country.

Focus on agriculture

Mr. Singh said the emphasis was on strengthening of agriculture, energy independence and reforms on the fiscal side and even suggested that laws passed by Parliament on maintaining a certain percentage of fiscal deficit would be also be reviewed in the present situation.

Mr. Sinha said there has been a loss of livelihood due to the present uncertain situation as the government was adopting a crawling incremental approach which was not in the interest of the country or the common man. He said there was a complete loss of confidence and warned of a 50 per cent fall in the manufacturing sector.

Serious credit crunch

The demand was going down and excess capacities were being created and in addition to this a lot of dumping was taking place from China without any corrective action by the government. “There is an immediate need for foreign exchange management to prevent further bleeding of the reserves. The agriculture sector is faced with a serious credit crunch in the sowings season and massive job losses were taking place at the lower level,” he remarked.

Corporate honchos who took part in the meeting included Bajaj Auto’s Rahul Bajaj; Reliance Industries Limited Chairman Mukesh Ambani; Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group’s Chairman, Anil Ambani; Essar’s Shashi Ruia; Bharat Forge’s Baba Kalyani; Jaiprakash Industries’ Chairman, J.P. Gaur; Assocham president Sajjan Jindal; and FICCI president and MP, Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

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