India best positioned to become a counter-balance to China: SpiceJet CEO

NEW DELHI:Amid global economic woes and trade tensions, India is one of the “few bright stars” and is best positioned to become a counter-balance to China, industry leader and airline major SpiceJet’s CEO Ajay Singh said on Monday.
Singh, who is in this Swiss resort town to participate in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting being attended by the who’s who from more than 100 countries, also asserted that India has a unique advantage of having a consensus on economic policies and would continue on its strong growth path irrespective of which government is in power.
He, however, hoped that the Narendra Modi government would return to power after national elections due in the next few months, saying the work done by it has been phenomenal and unparalleled.
Singh, who is credited with coining the hugely-popular 2014 election slogan of ‘Abki Baar Modi Sarkar’ (This is the time for Modi government), told PTI in an interview that his message to the global leaders at WEF would be clear — India will continue to grow and deliver on reforms.
With the trade tensions between various economic superpowers including the US and China hogging the limelight at discussions among the WEF participants, Singh said, “India is one of the few bright stars that are there today.”
“Many people want to see India become a counter-weight to China in future so that we do not become a world so dominated by China as an economic power. All these are good signs for India and it is for us to take advantage of the prevailing global situation,” he said.
Calling India “a land of opportunity”, Singh said the amount of work done by the Modi government in the last 4-5 years is truly phenomenal, including on GST, ease of doing business, bringing unbanked people under the banking net, doubling of taxpayers’ base, cleanliness and road networks.
He said India has remained the world’s fastest-growing major economy and there are several positive signals, including in terms of the government’s target to get into top-50 countries in terms of ease of doing business.
“Of course, there have been some missteps on the way. There have been some issues which were global factors, such as sudden increase in global crude oil prices and the currency fluctuations.
“Then there have been some cases where policy prescriptions were perhaps not as expected, but by and large it has been a tremendous performance in the last 4-5 years and hopefully we can continue down this path, whichever government is there in India,” he said.
Singh, the principal shareholder as also chairman and managing director of low-cost airline SpiceJet, said he believes Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government would be back in power again, but irrespective of that, the country as a whole has a large amount of consensus on economic policies and that should assure investors.
He said it also must be noted that a lot of trouble is happening around the world, going by the developments in Europe and Britain and the trade dispute between the US and China.
Asked whether his answer to questions from global leaders about the upcoming elections would be ‘Abki Baar Fir Modi Sarkaar’ (Once again Modi government), he said, “I really hope, so because I truly believe that the amount of work this government has done has been unparalleled.”
“I have said that it is not that there have been no missteps, but mistakes happen only when someone works. So, there are mistakes, but achievements have been truly phenomenal and in my lifetime I have never seen so much progress happening in five years,” he added.
Singh, a first generation entrepreneur who is regarded as the face of Indian aviation, said the country must use this opportunity, when there are troubles elsewhere globally, to further strengthen its position, such as by boosting our agriculture sector and becoming an alternate source for many products.
“Many people across the world are looking for a counter-balance to China and India has that potential to present itself as a country that can be a potential economic power of future of a reasonable size. We are one of the largest economies of the world and will soon further grow in the rankings at the pace we are growing,” he asserted.
Singh had helped start SpiceJet in 2005 with the objective of making flying affordable for all. After a successful tenure, he exited from the airline in 2010 before buying it back again when it was near shutdown in 2015.
He has since scripted one of the most remarkable turnaround stories in global aviation by leading SpiceJet to 14 consecutive quarters of profit.
At the five-day WEF summit, Singh will chair the Aviation, Travel and Tourism (ATT) Governor’s meeting, becoming the first Indian to be made the ATT Governors Board Chair.

He also has other ‘turnarounds’ to his credit, including for the loss-making Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and the national television broadcast network Doordarshan. He has an engineering degree from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, LLB from Delhi University and an MBA from Cornell University in the US.

Source: Press Trust of India

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