When Tiger Woods was in India, this gentleman was one of those passionate fans walking with him through the course and making careful notes of his swing and stance.
For the golfer in Didar Singh, secretary general of FICCI, he knew the game in India had come of age with Tiger’s arrival in the country. But Singh, who probably played more golf that Tiger himself, is aware of the long learning curve the sport has taken for he has been up and early at golf course for over 35 years from Assam to Delhi.
Delhi Golf Course where Singh plays is a perfect haunt to catch up on the all the buzz around policy and economy. With the new government in place, the expectations are high. “This government means business and that it’s also helping change the perception is a step forward.
There is an impression that India will be progressively allowing for more ‘ease of doing business’. So what makes him optimistic in less than 100 days of work by this sarkar? “Budget is a good signal. And indications on the ground are supporting growth.
Manufacturing is improving, export figures are better than before.” Though he admits infrastructure, the sector with the least fillip (but maximum scope) at the moment, remains sticky.
The long period taken to revive it makes the task of policy makers and industry, harder. It can only grow through public and private partnership where we need to bear in mind one important thing according to Singh. “The approvals need to come with speed and promptness.”
Given that India needs over one trillion dollars to grow infrastructure, it may be difficult to get the private sector on board without actually reassuring them of bringing those projects to fruition.
As Singh says of golf, “the single most important thing is to follow through” and the government may take that lesson from the sport on building infrastructure.
FICCI has been a busy post for him. They have been taking delegations overseas to Europe, UK and Japan in a bid to revive the diminishing image of India in trade after the slowdown had hit. “That we make for a great democratic market is not going to change and so as a country we remain hugely attractive.”
The talk of a more streamlined and stable environment for foreign investors has urged stakeholders to look back at India after the elections, which brought a majority mandate. “No wonder suddenly several state representatives from the world are making a beeline to come here,”Singh asserts.
And this is further emphasised by the new BRICS Development Bank of which the Indian prime minister is the first president.Central to all these international effort though is the refocus on FDI.”Going for reform is part of the growth piece. Insurance bills absolutely crucial and India must signal that we mean business by getting it through. Defence of course is a massive sector waiting to be tapped.”
Retail has been a disappointment for international firms but Singh insists on unleashing its domestic potential first by making India more consumers centric, even if global retailers stay out.
As Didar Singh bets on FICCI’s forecast of ‘closer to 6% GDP growth’ he hopes small efforts will bring big results as they do in golf. A smaller and surer swing lifts the ball well and puts it on the fairway.