The Business Year

Dr. Manmohan Singh

QATAR - Diplomacy

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Former Prime Minister, India


India’s 14th Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh studied at Punjab University and later at Nuffield College at Oxford University. In 1971, he joined the government of India as Economic Advisor in the Commerce Ministry. This was soon followed by his appointment as Chief Economic Advisor in the Ministry of Finance in 1972. Among the many governmental positions that he has occupied are Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Advisor of the Prime Minister, and Chairman of the University Grants Commission. Between 1991 and 1996, he was India’s Finance Minister. In 2004 he was sworn in as Prime Minister, winning a second term in 2009.

TBY talks to Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, on the strong relations between Qatar and India, and the contributions Indian expatriates are making to the Gulf.

What are your views on the bilateral relations between Qatar and India?

I believe Qatar to be one of India’s closest friends in the Gulf region. The enlightenment, openness, and respect for diversity shown by the leaders of Qatar has contributed greatly to its rapid socio-economic development, making it a model for the region as a whole. Our relations with Qatar are part of our historical, cultural, and civilizational links with the Gulf region. This is a region of vital importance to us. It is home to 5 million Indians, and is also an important source of our energy requirements.

To what extent do Indian citizens living in Qatar contribute to the Indian economy?

Indians constitute the largest expatriate community in Qatar, numbering over 400,000. The Indian community in Qatar has earned a reputation for hard work, diligence, and great enterprise. The hard work of Indian citizens living and working in Qatar is contributing to our mutual prosperity. Their annual remittances of over $700 million to India are an invaluable contribution not only to their families in India, but also to society at large. The government is undertaking measures to facilitate this process. Our financing requirements for the infrastructure sector alone are estimated at $500 billion over the next five years.

What is your outlook for growth in the Indian economy and what role can Qatar play in India’s economic trajectory?

The Indian economy rests on strong fundamentals. Since 2005, we have averaged 9% GDP growth per annum. Our development efforts have been positively impacting our substantial agriculture sector, which has registered growth of over 4%. The resurgence of our rural economy and a more inclusive and balanced growth model will, I am sure, create wealth for our people, and rid the ancient land of India of ignorance and disease. The current international economic and financial situation has clouded some of the near term growth prospects. I am, however, confident that the long-term outlook for our economy remains strong and robust. Our inherent strengths, the large size of our markets, the diversified industrial base we possess, and the strong and dynamic private sector will eventually allow us to return to a 9% growth trajectory. The current global financial crisis presents, in many ways, a rare window of opportunity for India and Qatar. The investment requirements of a large emerging economy like India and the vast financial surpluses of an energy rich economy such as Qatar can be married to create a win-win situation for both of our countries. Indian companies are also increasingly looking to invest in Qatar in such sectors as energy, construction, finance, and information technology.

“ The current global financial crisis presents, in many ways, a rare window of opportunity for India and Qatar. “



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