Optimistic on world economy: Azim Premji

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Wipro chairman Azim Premji on Tuesday expressed optimism over the state of global economy, saying the US has been showing positive signs of late. "...And the US drives a lot of the world scene," Mr Premji told NDTV Profit on the sidelines of the six-day long World Economic Forum meet, which kicked off Tuesday at Davos, Switzerland.

"China is also not doing as bad as has been made out. They'll still end up probably with an 8 per cent  growth rate ... The good thing is that there is a major shift taking place in the country from investments to consumerism to fillip demand."

Speaking about the India growth story, Mr Premji said the spate of changes being made is apparent. He was referring to the recent economic decisions taken by the government in the world's second fastest growing large economy, which will see the sixth edition of the consolidated foreign direct investment (FDI) policy on March 31.

He, however, said the government's recent push for mutli-brand retail FDI was not worthwhile given the acrimony and frustration it created in the Opposition.

Mr Premji's comments come after the Supreme Court questioned if the Centre's FDI push was a mere political gimmick.

"There is a sense of urgency and healthy panic within the government, but the reform push may be too little too late as India has lost a lot of economic momentum in last 2-3 years," he said.

Middle and Far East look reasonably good with an expected 4-5 per cent growth rates, Mr Premji said. He, however, said concerns remain from the developments in Europe, at the same time adding that the happenings in Greece can no longer be termed as a crisis. "They are making constructive reforms and are getting part of their act together," he said.

"Spain is facing very hard times in unemployment ... but overall, the latest forecast I read by Gartner (research firm) of the services growth for the world this year was somewhere at 5-6 per cent, which is decent," he said.

Reacting to the latest report by Oxfam International report, which says the poorest people in the world could be lifted out of poverty several times over should the richest 100 billionaires give away the money they made last year, Mr Premji said this does make you feel sad, but baulked at calling the same unethical. "It is not unethical, but then a lot of trusteeship responsibility has to accompany it and wealthy people should consider it as part of their obligation ... The more they think so, the longer they are going to survive in their positions; otherwise the forces of socialism will overtake them."

Taking about the economic disparity in India, Mr Premji said, "the issue here would be more about raising the base of income and wealth, as one does not create wealth by redistributing wealth but creating it," adding that there needs to be very high consciousness among the very wealthy that they have a responsibility for that wealth and not just a legacy to leave it to their family."

Saying thus, Mr Premji baulked at the idea of taxing the super-rich, saying his views on the same are neutral. "It sounds a right thing to do politically, though," he said.

Story first published on: January 23, 2013 00:43 (IST)

Tags: Azim Premji, World Economic Forum, WEF, Davos, Davos 2013, Wipro, China, FDI policy

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