Readers might recall that attention had been drawn in these columns to the startling allegation made by Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Mr. Vayalar Ravi that the recent adverse reports about India’s investment potential by global rating agencies like Standard & Poor and Fitch were part of an “international conspiracy”. The conspiracy according to him was hatched by three NRI businessmen on behalf of a foreign country.
It was pointed out that coming from a Union Minister it was a very serious charge. Identification of the business interests as well as of the country on behalf of which they acted was demanded. Alluding to the Minister’s claim of an existing nexus between Indian corporate interests and foreign powers to subvert the nation’s economy, it was noted how the Finance Ministry’s own decision to introduce retrospective legislation to tax Vodafone in the last budget had harmed India’s international reputation as an investment prospect.
Subsequently President Obama has criticized India for overcautious and inadequate reforms that mar its investment prospects. Many Indian experts had earlier opined what President Obama has said. These included the Finance Ministry’s Adviser Mr. Kaushik Basu. However, responding to President Obama’s criticism the Corporate Affairs Minister Mr. Veerappa Moily made a most curious rejoinder. He said: “Certain international lobbies like Vodafone are spreading this kind of story.”
Mr. Moily seemed to take off from where Mr. Ravi had left. It is one thing to suggest that Vodafone is responding negatively to the Finance Ministry’s decision related to retrospective legislation. But to categorize Vodafone as being part of an anti-India lobby and by adding grist to what Mr. Ravi alleged is an altogether different kettle of fish.
Does Mr. Moily suggest that regardless of retrospective legislation Vodafone was part of an international lobby out to denigrate India ’s investment potential? If so, the implications of Mr. Moily’s remark are far reaching.
In that case the Finance Ministry’s decision for retrospective legislation which hurt Vodafone might well be seen as deliberately giving Vodafone a handle to rubbish India’s investment climate. That would amount to a very serious charge against former Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee poised to become the next President of India after voting for the post takes place on the 19th.
It would insinuate that knowingly or otherwise Mr. Mukherjee was colluding with an anti-India international lobby.