CAPTAINS of industry and chambers of commerce share one thing in common: a strange optimism, that whichever party comes to power there will be no going back on economic reforms. Says Modi: "Any new government will have no option but to speed up the reforms to allow the enterprising spirit of Indian industrialists to reach its highest level so that the economy can grow at a rate of 8 to 10 per cent a year. That is the only way to eradicate poverty and raise the standard of living of the masses." Says Ashok Desai, Silicon Graphics Systems (India) managing director, SAARC region: "There will be a slight acceleration of economic reforms in the initial period, irrespective of which party comes to power."
It's one thing to make negative statements about reforms when a party is not in power and entirely different when it actually takes over the reins of government, opines Narang. Balaraman agrees: "Now all parties understand the benefits of opening up. All parties which have some chance of coming to power have implemented the key elements of liberalisation in the states they are ruling. For the sake of rhetoric, some consumer items may be targeted or may even not be permitted to exist. But the economy's overall direction will no longer be subjected to ideological pressures." False optimism? Let us hope not. There's too much left to be done.