ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Wooing the American Investor

Our Delhi Letter from Volume XIII, no's. 44-45, November 4 1961.

Red carpets were rolled out to the group of American businessmen who had been herded together by the Business International Inc and gently led and guided by the Indian Com-mercial Counsellor in New York. The object: a round-table conference to acquaint themselves with the business conditions in this country and to “sense” the investment climate. Their 40-point questionnaire ranging from “Do you regard profit immoral?’’ to “How easy or dif-ficult is to dismiss an Indian worker?” embraced all facets of Indian economy and also touched broadly the political situation in the country – as was clear from their question to the Labour Minister: What was the extent of Communist influence among labour and what were the Government measures to counter it? While most of the questions were explora-tory, some betrayed a fantastic ignorance of the Government’s economic policies and some were tendentious. For instance, they wanted to know what public sector projects the Government would switch over to the pri-vate sector. The questions which figured most prominently were those on taxation, nation-alisation and compensation, majority-share or wholly owned foreign enterprises, and for-eign private capital participation in the pro-posed Bokaro Steel Plant and in all phases of oil industry… In official circles it is categorically stated that no new concession was offered to the American businessmen and that the interpre-tations of policies, were objective and “there was no attempt to hide the “socialistic” and “nationalistic” content of our “policies”…

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