Manmohan Singh gave India its second freedom: Sibal

June 15th, 2008 - 1:43 pm ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, June 15 (IANS) India’s Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal has called upon the expatriate community in Canada to help uplift 700 million Indians from their “uneven” world into “the flat world of the 400-million-strong Indian middle class”. Speaking as chief guest at the 31st Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce annual dinner gala here Saturday night, Sibal pointed out that India got its political freedom in 1947. But it was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who gave India its second freedom when he, as finance minister, ushered in economic liberalisation in 1991, said Sibal, who is here with a trade delegation for bilateral talks.

Thanks to Singh’s liberalisation, India was now a trillion-dollar economy, with its forex reserves crossing the $315-billion mark, Sibal said.

India was now growing at a rate of about 9 percent, creating a middle class which outnumbered the combined population of the US and Canada, he said amid applause from the 1,000-strong gathering.

Calling the Indian middle class “the six-lane highway”, Sibal said: “That is India’s great story”.

However, he said: “There is another story lurking behind this highway - the uneven road of 700-million Indians who ride bicycles”.

The challenge now, he added, was to concentrate on “this uneven road so that the world is flat” also for the remaining 700 million Indians.

And the successful Indian community in Canada can help in the betterment of underprivileged Indians, he said.

Monte Solberg, Canadian minister for human resource and social development, said India was poised to become a technological and economic super power.

India was a vibrant democracy which shared a common history and values with Canada. For these reasons, he said, the emerging economic power was strategically important for his country.

The signing of the scientific and technological cooperation agreement in 2006 and the foreign investment protection and promotion agreement in 2007 showed the importance Canada attached to India, he said.

Solberg said India-Canada trade ties will get a further boost with Prime Minister Stephen Harper announcing two new trade offices in Hyderabad and Mumbai.

The minister said India-Canada relations are “firing on all cylinders” and the 900,000-strong Indian community was contributing immensely to strengthening these ties.

Ten Indo-Canadians and Canadians were also honoured at the gala for their achievements in their respective fields and contribution to promoting India-Canada relations.

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