Amar Singh, a member of parliament and general secretary of the Samajwadi Party in India, is to meet the Indian government to encourage the growth of Islamic banking. Singh said he will press Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, face to face on the issue, while attending a gathering of economists and intellectuals at the India Islamic Cultural Centre in New Delhi. Abdur Raqueeb, director of the Centre, also strongly supported Islamic finance, saying that opening the door to the industry would immediately unleash trillions of dollars in foreign direct investment.

Raqueeb went on to say that an Islamic banking system has already been introduced in many nearby countries, including Singapore, Malaysia and Japan, and that investors in the Gulf region were less keen than previously to invest in the West. India, Raqueeb believes, should be an attractive target given the level of economic growth in the country. Raqueeb stated that, since Islamic finance is based on equity and justice, it should be an antidote to the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, and that it should decrease inequalities in the country. A report by Raghuram Rajan, former chief economist of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) will also be submitted to the government, calling for the encouragement of Islamic finance in response to the financial exclusion of India’s Muslims. There are approximately 150 million Muslims in India, equal to about 13 per cent of the country’s population.