The ninth anniversary of India’s present government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an opportune moment to assess its achievements so far, especially as the next 25 years lead up to the 100th anniversary of India’s independence. The experience would also serve as a guidepost for the government to script a blue- print and draw a policy road map for India’s future, an exercise that would help establish India as a global force to reckon with as it aims to become a developed economy by 2047.
The present government has been working towards changing perceptions about India ever since it assumed office. Since its decisive mandate of 2014, the Modi government has worked assiduously to create a strong India, ready to take on the world on the strength of its robust fundamentals. Hence, even as the global economy faces headwinds, India today continues to hold its own, having emerged as the world’s fastest growing major economy for three consecutive years.
Further, India’s G20 Presidency this year provides an opportunity to showcase Indian leader- ship in tackling various challenges, including those of reviving global growth, undertaking climate action, social empowerment and healthcare, among others. The global spotlight on India has essentially been enabled by the many bold and extraordinary steps taken by the government to ensure that the country gets its rightful place at the global high table.
Indeed, the government as over the last nine years brought in multi-dimensional reforms and taken many initiatives, in partnership with major stakeholders, in diverse areas to create the right enablers to bolster competitiveness, promote inclusion and propel growth. The impetus given by the government to ramp up public investment in infrastructure, encourage manufacturing, pro- mote investor-friendly policies, support SMES, among others, will go a long way to make India competitive in the global economy. The credo of development through good governance, with a focus on execution, has struck the right chord and its results have been fruitful.
Further, the work done by the government in the direction of fiscal consolidation, better subsidy targeting, uplifting agriculture, financial inclusion and effecting social transformation would help enhance efficiency and take the country onto a path of inclusive and sustainable growth.
From the perspective of Indian industry, seven high points of the government’s economic strategy deserve special mention.
First, the government’s relentless drive to revitalize infrastructure by taking steps to improve last-mile connectivity, reducing Logistics costs, expanding roads and rail network, ports and airports, etc., is noteworthy. The creation of a National Infrastructure Pipeline, the 33% capex hike in the Budget for 2023-24 and the Gati Shakti scheme are among the Centre’s most recent initiatives to strengthen infrastructure, boost market competitiveness and fortify growth. Similarly, the asset monetization programme and NaBFID would greatly help to unlock capital for infrastructure financing.
Second, through its Atmanirbhar Bharat pro- gramme of self-reliance and production linked incentive scheme, the government is spearheading a manufacturing transformation. Also, its accent on improving the ease of doing business and facilitating corporate exits, plus its introduction of GST and reduction in corporate tax, together with skill development, FDI reforms, etc., will go a long way to make India a hub of manufacturing and exports.
Third, India has among the world’s most open foreign investment regimes having opened sectors such as retail, civil aviation, defence equipment, space, insurance, nuclear energy and others to international players in a big way. Hence India is emerging as a preferred FDI destination as global businesses seek to de-risk their operations. India has also signed economic cooperation and trade agreements with countries such as the UAE and Australia, and negotiations are underway with the UK, EU and Canada, among others, to expand global ties.
Fourth, the government’s pioneering Start-Up India initiative, among the most aspirational schemes, has catalysed a startup culture and built a strong and inclusive ecosystem for entrepreneurship in the country. Today, India has the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem, with registered startups crossing the milestone of 100,000.
Fifth, the Prime Minister has conceived of digitization, technology and innovation as the centerpiece of a grand vision to foster the emergence of a digitally empowered society and knowledge-based economy, with the Digital India initiative having vaulted our prospects in this realm.
Sixth, the government’s focus on sustainability and green growth is now a key part of its overall developmental strategy. India is among the first few countries to have walked the talk on its climate commitments and has set an ambitious goal of net- zero carbon emissions by 2070. Besides, India is the third largest producer of renewable energy, with the potential to emerge as the global hub for green hydrogen.
Seventh, the administration’s deep commitment to social empowerment has seen schemes such as Jan Dhan Yojana, Ujjwala Yojana, Kisan Samman Nidhi, Ayushman Bharat Yojana, Gareeb Kalyan Yojana, Swachh Bharat Yojana, Awas Yojana, Jal Jivan Mission, etc., all of which are exemplary initiatives for the uplift of the needy. Besides, the government drew accolades for its bulk vaccine production and global outreach in the midst of the covid pandemic.
However, the country’s expanding aspirations call for more such actions. Infrastructure development must continue to get priority, even as we make a consistent improvement in the ease of doing business, reduce the cost of doing business through factor market reforms, lower the costs of energy and capital and focus resources on health, education and skills, among others.
India is at a tipping point in history. With our broad focus on growth while assuring citizens a commensurate improvement in the quality of their lives, we can look forward to a bright future.
This article was first published in the Mint on 26 May 2023.