BANGALORE – Economist and Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz believes India has much to do to improve its “image” abroad.

Mr. Stiglitz said the crackdown on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and “harassment” of students – particularly the slapping of sedition charges against students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University – had put India in a small club of authoritarian countries.

“India should be aware that it has an image problem. There are very few governments that have made it difficult for NGOs to operate or which engage in harassment of universities. These events have had a strong effect on public opinion abroad. It puts the country in the club of countries such as Egypt, Russia and Turkey. Most people in India will not want to be in this group,” he said.

“These events have also have been in the spotlight and have had had an effect foreign investors,” he added.

He suggested that Indian policymakers would do well to pay attention to growing India’s economy rather than “getting overly obsessed about inflation.”

Stiglitz insisted that excessive focus on taming inflation would hurt growth, and lead to higher unemployment levels, and lead to more inequality.

“That means not getting overly obsessed about inflation. The second aspect India should focus on to fight inequality is to strengthen and expand the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS),” he recommended.