TORONTO: Silicon Valley’s Indian giant Kanwal Rekhi is a multi-millionaire venture capitalist who formed The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) in 1992 to create entrepreneurs. Today, TiE has a become a global phenomenon that nurtures budding entrepreneurs.
Rekhi also happens to be the most celebrated alumnus of Mumbai IIT where he has set up the School of Information Technology with $3 million.
Never the one to pull his punches when it comes India’s growth, Rekhi has not actually been a fan of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In an interview with Gurmukh Singh, he says, India has slipped because Manmohan Singh lacks leadership and he should have gone a long time ago.
Q: Time magazine has called Prime Minister Manmohan an “underachiever” and the Independent newspaper of London has described him as Sonia Gandhi’s “poodle.’’ Being one of most prominent and successful IITians, what do you think of the Indian Prime Minister under whose watch India has slipped lately?
A: He has been a disappointment not only as a prime minister but also as an economist. Economics is all about incentives and rewards. They should be aimed at making society more productive and entrepreneurial. This government has focused on subsidies and making people dependent. Instead of teaching them how to fish, he has focused on giving them the fish.
Q: Do you really think he has achieved anything as prime minister since 2004? Or is he really Sonia Gandhi’s poodle?
A: Nil, gyp, nada, nothing. Can you name one reform or disinvestment that has happened under his watch? Under NDA rule, we (India) had automobile, airlines, telecom, insurance and many other liberalizations. This government has destroyed telecom and airline industries through corruption and mismanagement.
With respect to being a poodle, I will let the facts speak for themselves. He definitely has not been his own man and has no control over his ministers.
Q: So what is Manmohan Singh biggest weakness as PM, according to you?
A: Passivity. Lack of leadership!
Q: Do you think he should continue or leave?
A: I would have left a long time ago. Why stick around when you are not able to do it or get it done?
Q: Finally, what is India’s biggest problem and how can it get back on the fast growth track?
A: Tragedy of India’s liberalization was that it was not done purposefully. Nobody was disgraced, no denouncement of the old socialism. Everything has been done as a reaction and with stealth. This has resulted in policy with no coherence and steadiness. India needs to get back on the track of continual liberalization and growth. Best poverty elimination is through economic growth and not handouts.