‘Lobbying and bribery are two very different things...These disclosures (by Walmart) are for expenses in the US’

Walk the Talk

In this Walk the Talk on NDTV 24x7, Nancy Powell, US Ambassador to India, speaks to The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta on Walmart's recent disclosure, her earlier diplomatic stints in India and Pakistan and on discovering India through photography

We are in Roosevelt House in Delhi, the home of the American ambassador for more than 50 years now, and my guest today is Ambassador Nancy Powell. You were born in 1947. If you were born in this country, we could describe you as a midnight's child.

Thank you. I used to say I was as old as India and someone accused me of being 5,000 years old.

As Rajiv Gandhi used to say, "We are a new nation, but an old civilisation". So, you can decide where to start. You have a bust here of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Let me give you a little history of Roosevelt House. The first occupant was Ambassador John Kenneth Galbraith and he brought the bust of Franklin Roosevelt. One of his Republican successors brought the bust of Theodore Roosevelt. And as the first woman American Ambassador, I got the bust of Eleanor Roosevelt.

You were here as political counselor when Narasimha Rao was the prime minister and Dr Manmohan Singh was the finance minister.

I came to Calcutta first in 1992 (as a US Consul-General). It was a period when India was making enormous changes and American businesses said, 'oh, we have to look at India'. I now come back almost 20 years later and find dramatic changes that have occurred in our relationships, the economy and the growth of the economy that has allowed people to move up into the middle class.

Between 1992-93 and now, how similar does the debate still look, with Parliament getting stalled everyday on FDI?

Both our parliaments take their obligations seriously—to represent the views of their constituents, to talk about issues that are very keen and very important to people. The FDI issue is a little different in the United States, it doesn't involve foreign direct investment. Outsourcing is the equivalent there. Both have economic issues but they also have emotive issues. We look forward to American companies looking at multi-brand retail, being involved in the insurance sector, looking at pension investments. American investors have been very keen on India, but it is also going the other way. Indian investors are making investments in the US.

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