New Delhi: In his recent visit to UAE, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made an all-out attempt to woo Arab investors by promising that he would resolve “problems”, particularly in India’s regulatory environment and highlighted the immediate possibility of a $1trillion-investment in sectors such as infrastructure and energy. However, the major hurdle in attracting investment from the oil-rich Gulf countries is non-availability of alternative banking facility in India that is known as Islamic banking.
Seeing its tremendous potential, the state-owned largest bank State Bank of India (SBI) was to launch Sharia Mutual Fund, designed to invest in Sharia compliant companies but the move was abruptly abandoned by the bank following pressure from the higher-ups. Had it been launched, it would have immense potential to attract Arab investors.
Pointing towards this, general secretary of the Indian Centre for Islamic Finance (ICIF), H. Abdur Raqeeb said ‘Sukuk’, an Islamic finance product based bond, has emerged as an alternative of investment the world over for infrastructure development and India can also opt for the same. Brazil, one of the BRIC countries, has huge investments in various sectors based on Sukuk. Brazil has a negligible Muslim population, he added.
Admitting this lacuna, Ahmadabad-based businessman Zafar Sareshwala, who is believed to be behind Modi’s visit to UAE, said he was aware of the problem and he would try to convince the PM for opening the Islamic window in Indian banking system. Talking to Muslim Mirror from Ahmadabad, Sareshwala said interest free banking is not meant for Muslims alone, but for all as many leading banks of the world have opened Islamic window in their set up.
Sareshwala, who is considered as an ardent votary of Modi, is said to be first suggested the PM to visit UAE as the Gulf Emirate has tremendous business potential for the country. He, who was the only prominent Indian to accompany Modi to UAE, has some kind of relation with Abu Dhabi’s ruler Khalifa Bin Zayed as well as Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.
Underlining investment importance, Sareshwala, who was appointed as the Chancellor of the Maualna Azad National Urdu University by the Modi government, said investors command immense political and economic clout. He cited the example of Jewish investors as they are in a position to influence the foreign and domestic policies of US.
It is also said that Modi has visited Sheikh Zayad Mosque in Abu Dhabhi at the behest of Sareshwala. When asked about this, he tried to play down it saying it was not for the first Modi visited a mosque as he earlier had visited Sarkhej Roza, a heritage mosque and tomb complex in Ahmadabad.