The foreign direct investment (FDI) policy for medical devices and audit firms associated with companies receiving overseas funds were also eased to facilitate capital inflows.
However, the Government has clarified that "FDI in Air India including that of foreign Airlines should not exceed 49% either directly or indirectly and substantial ownership and effective control of the national carrier will continue to remain in Indian national".
It has been felt that the country has potential to attract far more foreign investment which can be achieved by further liberalizing and simplifying the FDI regime.
Foreign direct investment into India rose 17 per cent in the April to September period to US$21 billion from a year ago, according to data from the Commerce Ministry. The sale of Air India will be one of the key reforms in recent years as the airline is struggling with a debt load of $7.6 billion and is surviving on a taxpayer bailout.
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The decisions were taken by the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here.
Swadeshi Jagran Manch has said that easing the norms for FDI in SBRT would go against the best interest of the country.
"This will lead to larger FDI inflows, contributing to growth of investment, income and employment", the government said in a statement. Fast Retailing did not offer any immediate comment to the change in policy. The change in FDI-in-retail policy isn't as contentious, but it is a courageous move because the RSS has always been opposed to it and the BJP's traditional voter base includes a lot of traders and retailers.
However, FII/FPI (foreign portfolio investors) purchases were restricted to secondary market only.
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Opening up of FDI for real estate brokers will surely help the sector in India. Earlier also 100 per cent FDI was allowed in the segment, but it required government approval.
These include any instrument, apparatus, appliance, implant, material or other articles, whether used alone or in combination, plus any software tool, intended by its manufacturer to be used especially for human beings or animals for diagnosis, prevention, monitoring, treatment or alleviation of any disease or disorder.
As some critics have pointed out, the automatic approval of 100% FDI in single-brand retail comes with new caveats to replace existing ones and which will not be easy to meet for most companies. The amendment is likely to benefit companies such as Swedish furniture maker Ikea, which is planning to set up stores across the country.
"It has been chose to permit single brand retail trading entity to set off its incremental sourcing of goods from India for global operations during initial five years, beginning April 1 of the year of the opening of first store against the mandatory sourcing requirement of 30% of purchases from India", the statement said.
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The move should generate employment and give Indian consumers access to several worldwide brands.