NEW DELHI – Indian business mogul Ratan Tata on Thursday defended embattled Premier Manmohan Singh but called on him to act courageously to return the nation’s economy to a high-growth path.“Our PM must break convention, restore government credibility, place the country on a growth path once again by implementing promised reforms, removing roadblocks to growth,” the normally publicity-shy tycoon said.
“He will need to act boldly — to be courageous and to do the right thing,” Tata, who heads vehicle-to-steel giant Tata Group, said in an open letter publicised on his Twitter account.
Tata’s appeal comes after Singh last month took charge of the finance ministry when veteran politician Pranab Mukherjee stepped down to run for India’s mainly ceremonial presidency.
The reputation of Singh, credited with opening India’s economy in 1991 after decades of socialist-style planning, has taken a beating due to sliding growth, a string of graft scandals and accusations of policy reform paralysis.
“Attacks on the architect of ’91 reforms which brought us prosperity is sad and unfortunate. It’s wrong to single out the PM for inflation, low investment confidence and slow growth,” Tata wrote.
India recently posted 5.3 percent growth for the January-March quarter, the slowest in nine years and down from nine percent-plus a few years ago.
Tata said Singh “deserves the support of the people at this critical time” and praised the 79-year-old as a “warm-hearted prime minister (who) has led our country with great personal dignity and integrity”.
Tata, 74, one of India’s most respected businessman, is due to retire in December following a two-decade career in which he built the Tata group into an industrial giant operating in more than 80 countries.