India seen as most corrupt at WEF 20 years ago: Deve Gowda

Bengaluru, Jan 23 : Asserting that India has progressed manifold since his last visit to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland in 1997, former Prime Minister H.D.

Deve Gowda on Tuesday said the country was perceived as "most corrupt" by other countries at the Forum during his period.

"When I visited the WEF in Davos as the Prime Minister, the atmosphere that prevailed there among other countries was that India was the most corrupt nation," Gowda, who was the 11th Prime Minister of the country from 1996-97, told IANS here.

The Forum, back then, was not so "conducive" to investments in India as it currently is, he said.

"The country was facing a very tough time and was almost in debt-traps.

Ever since then the country has progressed on many fronts -- in terms of investments and economic conditions," the 84-year-old national President of the Janata Dal (Secular) reiterated.

After Gowda, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday attended the Forum at Davos and addressed the plenary session.

But, with the economic situation of the country being "very different" today from that of two decades ago, one could not "compare" the two, the former Prime Minister insisted.

"When I had visited the WEF, I had taken the responsibility to personally assure investors that the corruption in the country would not impact their investments," Gowda recalled, speaking to IANS.

Gowda had attended the WEF earlier in 1995 as well, during his time as the Chief Minister of Karnataka.

"During that time, this Forum was a place where the developed, developing and under-developed countries came together to mingle and communicate with an aim of investments," the Bengaluru-based political leader stated.

Gowda was sworn in as the Prime Minister in June 1996 to head a government formed by the coalition of 13 political parties like All India Indira Congress, Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party, among others, together named the United Front.

"The economic situation had not improved much in the country from the time I was a Chief Minister and had become the Prime Minister, as the government was formed through a coalition of parties," he said.

It was "unfair" of any one political party to claim the credit for the country's development, he remarked.

"There's no doubt that the country has progressed during the regime of (former Prime Minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayee and now during the time of Narendra Modi.

One cannot say it's due to one single government."

"It is Modi's way of criticising other political party leaders by saying that all the progress has been made by his party," he said.

India currently has the advantage of being a "stable government", he admitted.

Modi had emphasised at Davos on Tuesday that investing, manufacturing and production in India was "easier than before" as the government had decided to "finish the red tape" and made investments simpler through Foreign Direct Investment.

"Last time when Deve Gowda ji had come to Davos in 1997, our GDP was little more than (Dollar) 400 billion.

It has grown six-fold since then," Modi said.

(Bhavana Akella can be contacted at



Source: IANS