Narendra Modi for more FDI in defence production

Backs PSU privatisation,wants states to decide labour laws

Written by ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Published:April 8, 2013 10:02 pm

In a fresh articulation of his ideas on the economy and development,Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi Monday said India should become a hub for defence manufacturing,states get the exclusive right to decide on labour laws and the public sector be aggressively privatised.

Speaking at two events in the capital,the BJP leader touted as the opposition party’s top contender for the post of prime minister in 2014,also vigorously supported an open architecture of Centre-state relations to provide room for faster development saying it would improve governance.

Meeting the education gap and health needs of India’s young population,Modi said,was a bipartisan need. “Political parties need to rise above rhetoric to provide for these concerns on priority”,he said.

Modi spoke at the annual session of the FICCI Ladies Organisation and at an event organised by media group Network 18.

While he said his party has decided to oppose foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail,Modi accepted there was a need for larger investment from abroad in defence production.

Without specifying if he supported an increase in the investment cap from the current 26 per cent,Modi said India could easily emerge as a leading global arms manufacturer. “Foreign investors would be keen to use the trained and abundant Indian labour” in this sector,he pointed out.

Modi’s economic agenda was spelt out just days after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi addressed the annual meeting of the CII.

While Rahul had focused on support from business leaders for an “inclusive agenda” that was clearly pitched against Modi,the Gujarat chief minister said the development of states cannot be pursued on the basis of their “gotra”,a loose reference to political affiliations.

Throughout his speech,and later while answering questions,Modi instead made a pitch for better governance,a clear allusion to the UPA’s nine-year rule.

“The system of governance is losing credibility,which poses a grave danger. People look for other avenues for justice and it leads to social unrest,” he said. Modi claimed his party was against frequent changes in government policies and said if elected to power in the next general elections his party will not brand as reforms the improvement in delivery systems or governance.

Governance reform,Modi said,needed four Ps. The fourth element in public-private-partnership,he said,was people who needed to be informed and involved in the actions of government.

The BJP parliamentary board member also said he favoured removing labour issues from the concurrent list in the Constitution. There could be no one-size-fits-all solution to labour issues,he said.

“All political parties have used the labour constituency,either as agitators or as a means for development,” he said and added there was room for each to craft their own solution wherever they are in power.

On women’s issues,Modi said “we have to create a modern India,we have to take pride in our women and their power. We have to empower them through demonstrable actions. Like in Gujarat,properties registered in the name of women should be free of stamp duty”. Such a step he said,would ensure that benefits of empowerment will spread from the family to the larger society.

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