India offers to work with Malaysia on IT, higher edu sectors
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Last Updated: Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 20:52
Kuala Lumpur: India on Wednesday offered to work with Malaysia in developing capacity in IT and higher education, saying these were promising sectors for cooperation between the two countries.

Delivering the Khazanah Global Lecture here, Singh also invited Malaysian corporate to participate in the development of Indian infrastructure, which would need investment of about USD 1 trillion during the coming 12th Plan period (2012-17).

"The future of the global economy in the 21st century lies in the knowledge economy. We are working to strengthen our competitive advantage in this area... Both higher education and the information technology sectors are promising areas for India-Malaysia cooperation," he said at the lecture organised by Khazanah, the investment holding arm of Malaysia.

India has been steadily increasing the expenditure on science and technology as a proportion of GDP and has been investing heavily in both basic and higher education.

"For the last 50 years, India had seven Indian Institutes of Technology and one Indian Institute of Science. In the last five years, we have established eight more IITs and five Indian Institutes of Science and Research," Singh noted.

Although India claims a favourable demographic advantage, the Prime Minister noted that a "young population is an asset only if it is educated, skilled and finds productive employment."

The average age of an Indian by 2020 would be 29 years as compared to 37 years in case of China and 48 for Japan.

"If this (demographic advantage) were to happen, our objective of realising India's potential to grow at 10 per cent or more per annum for substantial period of time can become a reality," he said.

Singh further said that like the East Asian nations, India too is witnessing high savings and investment rates. "India now saves and invests well over 30 per cent," he added.

Admitting that infrastructure was a "major constraint", Singh said, "We are determined to overcome it. In the 11th Plan that ends in 2011-12, we had targeted investment in infrastructure of USD 500 billion. We hope to step this up to one trillion US dollars in the 12th Plan.

"Malaysia has well known strengths in building infrastructure and we welcome greater Malaysian participation in this sector," Singh said.

India is in the process of setting up infrastructure investment funds and would seek international funding.

"There are big plans afoot in India to set up special investment funds that can be used to finance long-gestation infrastructure projects. We hope to attract Indian and international funding into these projects," Singh added.

Having grown by over 9 per cent for three consecutive years till 2007-08, economic growth rate slipped to 6.7 per cent during 2008-09, mainly on account of the impact of the global financial crisis. The growth rate, however, picked up during 2009-10 to 7.4 per cent.

Regarding the current fiscal, Singh said, "We expect 8.5 per cent growth."

Pointing out that Indian financial sector, including banking and capital markets, are strong, the Prime Minister said, "This had helped support a boom in domestic investment. Domestic investment is complemented by strong Foreign Direct Investment flows which are welcome."


First Published: Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 20:52

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