Millennium Post

‘High time Indian Govt backs India Inc in foreign expansion’

Sharing his experiences from the past, Mittal said when his company ventured into Sri Lanka, the government there was expecting assistance of $100 million for a project.

'I conveyed it in MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) and officers in PMO (Prime Minister Office) but nothing moved after that. I could only convey. Few months after that, China doled out cheque of $1 billion to Sri Lanka which helped its companies,' Mittal said at the India Global Forum here.

He said Indian companies started venturing abroad and investing big after Tata acquired European steel firm Corus in 2006 and soon it was followed by acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover. 'Indian companies are making big investments abroad. Some of them are extremely successful, some moderate and some are in the process. In Africa, I have seen good amount of goodwill for India.
Though we cannot match the amount of money they (China) commit in Africa but government can support Indian businesses there,' Mittal said.

Airtel acquired African telecom operator Zain in 2010 for $10.7 billion. The telecom major operates in 17 African countries but is yet to register profit.

At the same event, Wockhardt Chairman and Group CEO Habil Khorakiwala said that Indian companies have brought down price of HIV drugs by about 98 per cent in Africa which was earlier unaffordable for people there. Mittal said positive changes are taking place under the new government but more needs to be done.

'PM (Narendra Modi) is now making bold moves overseas. He asked us to introduce ourself in Japan,' Mittal said. But unlike foreign businessmen who are made part of delegation when their ministers visit overseas, Indian businessmen are given a badge which says 'coinciding with visit of Prime Minister', he added.

'I have asked senior officials to at least make 'accompanying' if not call it delegates. We deserve some respect,' Mittal said. Bharti Enterprise chairman recalled a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin where Russian conglomerate Sistema's chairman Yevtushenkov was present during the meeting between heads of the two states.  Mittal said, 'A PMO official after the meeting asked me who is Yevtushenkov and said Putin was asking PM why don't you give him a telecom licence.'      
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