By M.M. Goel
To commemorate the common anniversary of Independence Day for South Korea and India on Aug. 15, let us resolve to cooperate and coordinate on mutually beneficial economic and non-economic relations. To my mind, non-economic relations are more important than economic ones.
Together, both of us with the wisdom of professionals possess the potential to be moderators and coordinators between the developed and underdeveloped economies of the world to avoid conflict and unhealthy competition. This calls for strategic partnerships with trust and confidence.
The year 2011, ``The year of Korea” in India and ``The year of India’’ in Korea have strengthened ties to build the bridges of friendship. I am extremely happy that our leaders have recognized the need of strengthening economic relations between the two countries. Personally I am a great fan of Korean products and have driven a Santro, made by Hyundai, for the last five years.
Korean products have become a household name in India. Beyond any doubt, the trade balance is in Korea’s favor. We have only 2.64 percent foreign direct investment inflow from Korea in infrastructure, transport, power, oil refinery, computers, chemicals (excluding fertilizers), commercial, office and household equipment. To grow together, there are untapped opportunities for trade and services from India to Korea which needs to be identified and explored for strengthening economic ties.
There was a school of thought in Korea that India would always be a land of potential rather than real opportunity. That has changed now. Investment is a strong story and in both directions, but in particular Indian investment into Korea over recent years. Infinite possibilities for business, friendship, travel and life. A recent study by Goldman Sachs forecast that India could growth at a sustainable rate of 8 percent growth until 2020.
It is worth noting that India is very optimistic in terms of Index of Consumer Confidence with a score of 82.1 points ― the highest level of optimism in the first half of 2012 out of the 14 markets in Asia-Pacific region surveyed by the Master Card Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence.
Rural household consumption grew at a faster rate than urban consumption in July 2011-June 2012 as revealed by the National Sample Survey Organization. It led to reducing the gap between rural and urban incomes and the consumption of people with policy implication of the availability of the rural market for Korean products.
To fulfill the investment needs for infrastructure under public private partnership (PPP) policy of Indian states like Haryana, there is a considerable scope for Korean direct investment. We need to learn housing construction from Korea which is best possibly equipped with technology and trained manpower.
It gives me pleasure to mention that many Korean boys and girls in Seoul are learning Hindi. We also need to learn Korean to make our manpower available to Korea who looks toward China for cheap labor. During my stay at Seoul’s Hankuk University of Foreign Studies as first Indian Council for Cultural Relations chair professor of Indian economy (Aug. 31, 2010-July 06, 2011), I have observed that most of the goods sold in Seoul are made in China. Why? If it is because of the cheap labor than we should look at the possibilities of hiring Indian labor. This is perfectly in tune with the General Agreement on Trade in Services of the World Trade Organization, wherein natural migration of manpower is encouraged.
We need to improve our intellectual infrastructure in terms of the international language English which is needed for globalization - the mantra of progress in the present era of competition. We should honor our mother tongues but should recognize English as an international language spoken all over the world. Konglish in Korea and Hinglish in India deserve to be recognized in English dictionaries of the world.
In my humble opinion, we can certainly create a win-win situation by joining hands with mutual trust and confidence in times to come. Let us exchange experts and technical skills for hardware and software to grow together.
The writer is a professor of economics and dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Kurukshetra University, India. His email address is email@example.com.