RSS backs FDI, divestment to counter economic slowdown

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat justified allowing foreign direct investment in several sectors and supported disinvestment, arguing that moves were needed to “strengthen the economy”.

In his Vijayadashami address, Bhagwat also emphasised that swadeshi meant self-reliance but not economic isolation. “Some think that swadeshi means breaking ties with the world. It is not at all like that... Countries have been trading and having strong economic relations with each other more often than before. But which countries have such strong relations? The ones which are self-sufficient,” the RSS chief was quoted as saying by a news agency.

The statement on trade ties comes at a time when the government is engaged in intense negotiations on the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a mega free trade agreement involving China, Asean nations, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia. While high-level deliberations are under way in the government on finessing country’s negotiating stance, Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an RSS-affiliate, has been critical of the proposal with a crucial ministerial-level discussions due later this week.

However, Bhagwat ruled out blanket opposition to trade arrangements.“The things I can make at home, I will not buy it from market. If I have to buy it from outside, I should prefer local market and protect the local makers and their jobs... Having trade relations with other countries on our own terms is called swadeshi,” he said.

“Such a self-reliant country can have relations with other countries based on friendship and not on profit or loss. To attain such trust among foreign investors, we need to shift towards a self-reliant economy,” Bhagwat said.

Bhagwat backed the government’s handling of the economy, while dismissing suggestions that the economy was in the grip of a recession. “Slowing down of the world economy has left its impact everywhere... We will definitely come out of this cycle of so-called recession. The personalities leading our economy are competent enough,” he told a gathering in Nagpur, in an emphatic vote of confidence in Prime Miniter Narendra Modi, who has been the spearhead of an effort to arrest slowdown.

While RSS has in the past had opposed foreign direct investment and disinvestment in several sectors, Bhagwat seemed to support both the strategies, although he did dwell into the swadeshi ideology in detail.

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