‘Have a look at India’: Nirmala Sitharaman tells foreign investors. Top quotes

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman kicked off here public engagement while taking on ‘resilience and growth of the Indian economy’ at PIIE

‘Have a look at India’: Nirmala Sitharaman tells foreign investors. Top quotes

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday arrived in Washington to attend the spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as chair the second G20 finance minsters and central bank governors meeting. She kicked off her public engagements on Monday from the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE).

She addressed a number of topics while discussing the ‘resilience and growth of the Indian economy’ at the institute. She urged the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to be more progressive and listening to other countries. She also gave a befitting response to the negative Western 'perception' of India over minority issues.

Here are top quotes from Sitharaman's PIIE discussion:

The Finance Minister urged foreign investors to not follow the ‘perceptions’ about India being built by those who never visited the country. She was responding to questions on perceptions affecting investment in India or capital flows. “I would think the answer for that lies with those investors who are coming to India, and they have been coming. And as somebody who is interested in receiving investments, I would only say, come have a look at what's happening in India, rather than listen to perceptions being built by people who have not even visited on the ground and who produce reports,” she said.

PIIE president Adam S Posen asked Sitharaman about the widespread reporting on MPs from Opposition parties losing their status as well as about violence against Muslim minorities in the country. The finance minister replied, “India has the second-largest Muslim population in the world, and that population is only growing in numbers. If there is a perception, or if there's in reality, their lives are difficult or made difficult with the support of the state, which is what is implied in most of these write-ups, I would ask, will this happen in India in the sense, will the Muslim population be growing than what it was in 1947?”

Sitharaman further made comparisons with neighbouring Pakistan and said the condition of minorities there is much worse and their numbers are declining gradually. She added that minorities there are charged severely for minor allegations. "As opposed to Pakistan, which was formed at the same time India was divided into two - Pakistan. Pakistan declared itself an Islamic country but however said minorities will be protected. Every minority has been dwindling in its number.....decimated in Pakistan. Even some of the Muslim sects have also been decimated," she said, adding that Muslims in India are doing better.

She further noted that Free Trade Agreements (FTA) between India and other countries are being signed ‘faster’ nowadays. The Finance Minister laid out names of countries, including ASEAN nations, Korea, Japan and UAE, that signed FTAs with India. "I think India has shown very clearly its initiative is working out well in pursuing with countries and agreeing to have FTA with them. We've had agreements with ASEAN, free trade agreements both in goods and services with ASEAN, we have had with Korea, with Japan. So free trade agreements have bilaterally or with multilateral groups been the route which India has had till before 2014 and now between 2019 and today, we've had at least three major agreements signed. So, we shall proceed in that route, with the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Canada. All three are happening now as we speak, the negotiations are going on. So we shall go in those preferential routes," she said.

Sitharaman further urged WTO to be more transparent in terms of moratorium and said, “WTO should be more open about issues. WTO has to be progressive and fair to all members. It has to give voice to all and not just hear but also heed. There's a continuation of a moratorium since 1998 on electronic transmissions despite evolution to digital age. Shouldn't there be a change in WTO policy in terms of moratorium? We don't have to reverse benefits of globalisation but make it more transparent.”