R K Sinha
Adjacent to the capital of India, New Delhi, Gurugram is becoming increasingly established as a lucrative business destination for South Korean citizens and companies. Thousands of Korean citizens, including professionals, engineers, entrepreneurs, etc., are residing there. All this attests to the cordial ties between India and South Korea. The two nations are brought closer due to their shared love, respect, and belief in Lord Buddha.
Dozens of renowned South Korean companies like Samsung Electronics, Huawei, LG Electronics, Doosan Heavy Industries are running operations in India. Corporations like LG Electronics, Moser Baer, and Yamaha of South Korea have established huge factories in Greater Noida. Even during the Covid era, when the entire world was confined to restrictions at their homes, 66 South Korean companies knocked on India’s door.
South Korea’s investment in India in the last four years has reached $2.69 billion as compared to $1,39 billion in 2017. This information was recently stated by the South Korean Ambassador in India, Mr. Jay Bok. It should be remembered that the message of South Korean companies’ continued investments in India is spreading far and wide. This will motivate those companies to invest in India, which have not yet taken a final decision on whether or not to invest here.
If India is to pursue rapid growth, then we have to bring in foreign investment. Apart from this, there is no other way. Nehru Ji thought that factories should be set up with Government capital and Indira Gandhi thought that all industries, mines, and banks should be nationalized, but only some people benefited from it. The country, however, has suffered a tremendous loss.
Of course, India is extremely appealing to foreign investors. That is why several Chinese companies also invest heavily in India. However, the Chinese Government remains embroiled in border disputes with India. South Korea and the rest of the world view India as the top player in the world in many respects. The successfully completed vaccination drive in India to protect its citizens against Covid-19 made us a shining example for the entire globe.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had once said that India, along with friendly nations like South Korea, is emerging as a major hub of electronics manufacturing. The trend of Korean companies heading towards India has increased exponentially. Till a few years ago, the companies there used to invest heavily in alternate countries like China and Indonesia. After the Covid era, they started approaching India instead. However, some Korean companies are still heading to Vietnam rather than India.
India has to change this trend. Indian industries need to see why Vietnam remains the first choice of Korean companies. At present, mutual trade between India and South Korea is much higher than that of China. But, India-China trade has reached $90 billion during the first nine months of this year. There has been an increase of 49 percent in comparison to the same period last year. This information was officially given by the Foreign Secretary to the Government of India, Harsh Vardhan Shringla.
So it is very clear that mutual trade is increasing between India-China, which has occupied a large part of India. India will have to try to ensure that its mutual trade with Korea rises but decreases with China.
If we want to successfully attract more investment from South Korea, then along with the Central Government, the four State Governments will have to take concrete initiatives on their part. Look, foreign investors will come only when they get better options to work. The strong development of states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Haryana has been possible only because; they attract huge private sector investment every year. Punjab is constantly lagging because there is always some protest going on there. There is a so-called agitation of farmers going on nowadays. There, Khalistani groups were running their movement for a long time.
The Central Government releases a ranking every year that establishes which states in the country are easiest to do business and which are the most difficult. The Government has named it “Ease of Doing Business”. In this, the first 5 places are dominated by the appropriate states. The ranking is aimed at introducing competition among states to improve the business environment and attract domestic and global investors. Those states will have to take a lesson from this ranking, where domestic or foreign investment does not come. If we talk about Bihar, then the investment of South Korean or other foreign or small companies of the country will come there only when Bihar will create a stable business environment.
The states where foreign exchange inflow is low will have to be reformed. They will have to introduce a single-window system to invite foreign investors so that all the issues of the investors are resolved there. Electricity and water supply will have to be arranged. Roads have to be improved. The public transport system has to be improved. And most importantly, the law and order situation has to be improved.
South Korea’s attitude towards India is also one of gratitude. A Korean War Memorial is being built in the capital. It is being built at Thimayya Park in Delhi Cantt. In the war between South and North Korea in the 50s, 22 countries, including India, supported South Korea. The impression of Korea will be visible in its architecture. There is also a sculpture of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore in it. Tagore is a very popular poet in Korea. He also wrote a poem on its glorious history in 1929.
The Korean War Memorial is being set up in Thimayya Park after thoughtful consideration. General Kodandera Subayya Thimayya had given frequent inputs to South Korea during the terrible war. One more thing is that South Korea is a country that believes in Buddhism. India will have to make efforts to bring foreign as well as South Korean citizens from different parts of the world for tourism in places related to the life of Lord Buddha. With this, our tourism will also boom in several regions of our country.
(The writer is a senior columnist, and former MP)
R K Sinha