India’s numerous political parties are forging a common commitment to continuing reforms of the country’s economy which were first initiated in 1991, Naresh Chandra, its ambassador to the U.S., told business leaders at a breakfast hosted by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce Jan. 31.

Mr. Chandra said that the country was “cautious” about instituting reforms for political reasons and did not want to appear as if its policies were primarily for the benefit of the country’s emerging middle class.

“Its not just the poor but the well-off who don’t like it,” he said of any perception that economic reforms are meant for the benefit of only the growing middle class, which he estimated to include some 250 million people.

But the government is proceeding with financial reforms which would appeal to the world’s capital markets in an effort to increase foreign investment, he added.  He also said that intellectual property rights are being safeguarded, citing the case of an indigenous company named Whirlpool which was forced to give up its name when Whirlpool Corp., the world’s leading major appliance manufacturer, opened operations there.

Although final figures for 1996 have not been compiled, he added that it is possible the U.S. will prove to have been India’s largest trading partner during the past year.