Foreign affairs analyst Fareed Zakaria cautioned India against going down the path of protectionism. Talking to India Today News Director Rahul Kanwal on the sidelines of World Economic Forum 2020 in Davos, Zakaria emphasised that India cannot emulate the protectionist policies of the United States and China, and needs the foreign investment and competition.
"This Davos, you had the President of the United States explaining how he wanted managed trade, limited immigration and controlled technology. China walls off its technology, practises a certain amount of limited free trade. So we have gone from a mood of openness to a mood of managed," Zakaria said
He pointed out that while this is a very different international economy and global system for India, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has adapted very well to it.
"Two years ago, Modi came to Davos, and if you watch his speech, it was basically a critique of Donald Trump. It was saying too many nations are looking inward, globalisation is shrinking, in fact, we need more trade, more openness. Since then, India has become a world champion of protectionism," Zakaria said.
Zakaria referred to US trade department's remark that India now has the highest tariff barriers of any country in the world, stressing that India needs to remain open for its own good.
"This is a very dangerous path for India to be on. United States, China can flirt with protectionism because they are much more open than the Indian economy. India needs openness, it needs foreign investment, it needs the competition to be able to really be world-class. If India starts closing itself off in a world that's closing itself off, it's not good for India," Zakaria said.
Talking about how world leaders view India in present times, Zakaria said that the prevailing emotion is that of disappointment, "particularly with US elites".
"Americans want to like India because they like the idea of India - an open, liberal, secular democracy, compared with China. Plus the influence of Indian-Americans should not be underestimated. But there have been two blows. First, India has disappointed on the growth and openness story economically. And the second, much more disturbing one, of course, has been over the last few years a sense that India is turning away from its secular and even democratic credentials with regard to some areas,"