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Indian PM Says Country Must Lose Laissez-Faire Attitude | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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NEW DELHI (AFP) – Indians must abandon their laidback attitude to improving efficiency and reducing red-tape so that Asia’s fourth-largest economy can industrialise rapidly, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said.

Singh said Indians must lose their “chalta hai” attitude — a commonly used phrase meaning “it will do” — to attract new businesses and increase productivity of those already established to compete with India’s neighbours.

“We have to give up our ‘chalta hai’ attitude to move very fast to catch up with our neighbours in east Asia,” said Singh Sunday.

Speaking at the launch of a project to modernise a steel plant in the eastern state of West Bengal, Singh highlighted the fact that Indian-origin steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal does not yet produce any steel in India.

“It is indeed an irony that Mittal is today called the steel king of the world. His group is the world’s largest steel producer without producing a kilo of steel in India,” the premier said, according to the Press Trust of India.

“Why is it that they choose foreign shores for growth and expansion rather than their home turf? Is it to do with our industrial environment, our procedures, our bureaucracy and red tape?”

The world’s largest steelmaker, Arcelor Mittal, signed a 8.7-billion dollar agreement with the eastern state of Orissa on Thursday to build its first steel plant in the country, a project that will take almost five years to complete.

Although India’s economy has expanded by more than eight percent during the past four years, the premier has warned in a series of speeches in the past week that “we must not be complacent”.

Singh has said a revitalised rural economy and private investment in public infrastructure were key to achieving 10 percent growth and employing the millions joining the labour force each year in the country of 1.1 billion.

The iron and steel industries were a fair indicator of the industrial progress of any country, and “by this measure we still have a long way to go to catch up with the fast industrialising economies of Asia”, Singh said Sunday.

“Our strength will lie in the capabilities of our industry, in our ability to produce enough food for our people, to generate enough electricity.”