Privatization plans bump along apace
Privatization in India has accelerated under firm government leadership but the process has been complicated by doubts about the involvement of state companies as buyers and government provisions to prevent monopolies developing. Foreign buyers have been notably absent, not least because of restrictions on the size of their holdings and other government provisions. Looming in the background is also the threat of a growing populist political tendency.
Arun Shourie, India's minister for disinvestment, faced a verbal barrage in parliament a year ago when he announced the sale of a 51% stake in Balco, a profitable aluminium company, to Indian company Sterlite.
The opposition Congress Party alleged that Balco had been sold for a song and its workers went on strike, forcing a plant closure.