‘Change in India will not be as dramatic as China’s’

Asia Society business conference ——————————–

INDIA would change but the transformation would not be as dramatic as China’s, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew said yesterday.

The change would be slower because the Indian bureaucracy was more entrenched and not as ready for total change as theChinese bureaucracy was, he said.

Replying to a question from a participant at The Asia Society’s business conference on how the Indian subcontinent would fit into the Asian scheme of things in the next generation, Mr Lee said:

“I believe it will be a different India, but parts of the old India will stay on.”

Mr Lee said India had a proper legal system and all the necessary structures to run a modern economy.

“But encrusted on that is a bureaucracy that has learned, and has improved, on the British canniness to thwart ministers whom they do not agree with,” he said, to laughter from the audience.

“My fear is that there is so much vested interest at every level that to dismantle all these rules and regulations is to remove toll points.”

But, he said, the message was getting through and Indian bureaucrats were allowing their children to go into business. Unfortunately, the Indian children who went to America to study business courses stayed there to work, whereas China hired its best minds overseas so that they could return home, he noted.

Mr Lee said certain areas and provinces in India would be more energetic and dynamic than others because they were differently structured.

Places like Bangalore, for instance, could achieve 70 per cent of East Asia’s growth rates.

Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong visited India in January and launched a $250 million Information Technology Park in the southern city of Bangalore, Singapore’s largest project in India.

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