New Delhi, Oct 30: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has castigated protectionist voices emerging in developed countries at a time when India was opening up its economy and said demands of patent protection by the pharmaceutical industry ought to be balanced against the need to ensure availability of afforable medicines.
"The elephant (India) which has long been commented upon as being slow and sleepy, is not just wide awake but moving forward rapidly.
So rapidly that it has become imperative for the global community to notice and acknowledge its emergence on the global stage as an economy that counts," Dr Manmohan Singh said inaugurating last evening the three-day conference of the 'Fortune Global Forum.' The Prime Minister said the road to reform over the past two decades has been a one way street. Different political parties of different ideological hues have been in office over the past two decades. Yet no policy reform has been reversed.
"The Indian economy and its globalisation has moved in only one direction--towards greater and greater freedom for individual creativity, initiative and enterprise. And towards increased integration with the world economy," he said.
"That is why the India story looks so good. That is what we dreamt of in 1991", Dr Singh said.
Dr Singh said new business activities have grown in response to global opportunities. The successes of India's Information Technology, automobile and pharmaceutical sectors were a living testimony to the benefits that liberalisation and globalisation have brought to the country.
"Sometimes, we do worry that at a time when we are becoming more open, protectionist voices are being heard in developed countries.
The lesson we must all draw from the experience of the past century is that no country can reverse the dynamics of social, economic and technological change. Rather we must learn to cope and adapt to change," he said.
The Prime Minister affirmed the government's commitment to the protection of intellectual property rights.
"But, the global economy and the global community cannot afford the complete privatisation of research, of knowledge generation, especially in fields like medicine. We need to evolve mechanisms that protect intellectual property and at the same time, address the needs of the poor. With the increasing privatisation of Research&Development in science and technology, modern societies require new approaches to the sharing of knowledge where such knowledge is of benefit to all humankind." "What the world needs today is a new concord between private enterprise and public welfare", he said "This dilemma poses itself most obviously in the field of health care. The policies we require to incentivise new R&D must be balanced against the need to ensure availability of medicines at affordable prices to the world's people." The 'Fortune Global Forum' brings together global Chief Executives, leaders in government, scholars, economists and top level editors of the Fortune magazine. The Forum highights key issues facing Multinational Corporations in a location that is a focal point of global economic interest.
The Prime Minister was given a standing ovation by the audience after his address.
The Prime Minister said India is on new growth trajectory. A trajectory where sustained growth of nine to ten per cent per annum-- growth rates which were considered impossible even five years ago-- seem possible for many years to come. This acceleration of economic growth over the past two decades has been driven by rising investment and saving rates by rising domestic consumption.
Dr Singh said India has witnessed an unleashing of Indian enterprise in this past decade.
''Big corporates have gone global. Small and medium enterprises have become more competitive. A new generation of local enterprise has burst forth into the business stage.'' ''These children of reform, who have benefited from our ongoing liberalisation and reform programme, are our vanguard to a new India ---an India that is prosperous, an India that is equitable and an India that is a just society.'' ''At the same time, our growth process is based on a widening and deepening of our own domestic market. As the Indian market grows, it is creating new opportunities for businesses across the world,'' he said.
The Prime Minister said as India grows, it seeks a wider engagement with the outside world, as ''an open market and as an open society''.
''As a nation of young people, we view the world as a planet of opportunities. We are aware of the risks associated with processes of globalisation. But, we have the confidence to utilise the opportunities being created. I believe that is the mood in India today,'' the Prime Minister said.
Dr Singh said the government was committed to the successful functioning of a rule-based multilateral trading system. India remains committed to the successful conclusion of the Doha Round of Trade Negotiations at an early date, he said and added that the round needs to be wedded to the promised development dimension.
Talking about issues pertaining to climate change, Dr Singh said India accepts its global responsibilities.
''We are willing to accept the obligation that our per capita emissions of Co2 will never exceed the per capita emissions of developed countries. If developed countries succeed in reducing their per capita emissions, this would exert pressure and will be a source of incentive for all of us as well,'' he said.
''I know very well that investment in the final analysis is an act of faith. It is shaped by perceptions, by expectations and by all the uncertainties of life. I invite you to have faith in our country. I assure you that your faith will not be misplaced,'' Dr Singh said.
The Prime Minister said India's success and the success of its experiment of achieving high growth in a democratic set up can alter the course of history in the 21st century.
''All those who invest in India, who invest in its future, who invest in India' s prosperity, who invest in the capabilities of the Indian people will be investing in the future of democracy,'' he said.