New Delhi: Amid concerns over minorities being targeted in India, former Reserve Bank governor Raghuram Rajan on Thursday cautioned that an 'anti-minority' image for the country can lead to loss of market for Indian products and may also result in foreign governments perceiving the nation as an unreliable partner.
India enters the perception battle from a position of strength, the professor at Chicago's Booth School of Business said, alluding to credentials like democracy and secularism, but warned that this battle is "ours to lose".
The comments came a day after bulldozers tore down several concrete and temporary structures close to a mosque in Jahangirpuri as part of an anti-encroachment drive, days after the northwest Delhi neighbourhood was rocked by communal violence.
Speaking at the Times Network India Economic Conclave, Rajan said, "If we are seen as a democracy treating all our citizens respectfully, and, you know, relatively poor country, we become much more sympathetic. (Consumers say) 'I am buying this stuff from this country which is trying to do the right thing', and therefore, our markets grow."
He added that it is not just consumers who make such choices over whom to patronise, but warmth in international relations too is decided by such perceptions, as governments take a call on whether a country is a "reliable partner" or not, based on how it handles its minorities.