Modi promises engine overhaul to drive growth
Feb 27 2014 , New Delhi
Co-opts states in 14-point checklist to revive stalled economy
Modi said, while his focus would be on tackling the twin deficits on fiscal and current accounts, his bigger challenge would be to address governance deficit, trust deficit, moral deficit, security deficit and bringing back vibrancy in democratic institutions.
Lambasting the Congress-led UPA’s 10-year tenure as ‘lost decade’ for India, Modi said the new government would have to start all over again to put the Indian economy back on firm footing to achieve double-digit growth.
Top honchos of India Inc, including corporate czars, investment bankers, market movers lined up to hear Modi’s economic plan here on Thursday. Modi used the India Foundation’s economic convention to unveil his economic philosophy and action plan if elected to power.
Besides corporate honchos, ambassadors and high commissioners from 27 countries, especially the G-20, were in attendance to hear India’s prime minister hopeful. In his inimitable style, Modi said he would leverage consumption demand for goods and services, demographic advantage and democratic polity to resurrect Indian ‘economic might’ of the pre-British era.
“No country has all these three attributes (demand, democracy and demographic advantages) and these very strengths would be used to compete in world markets and bring economic development and prosperity,” Modi said amidst thunderous applause.
Without naming the UPA government, he said the present government was neither dedicated not provided direction or had the determination to remove pessimism in the country that had spread like cancer.
He promised to take a holistic approach to address development and economic issues at the centre with active involvement of chief ministers in decision-making.
“We should put a stop to Delhi-centric government. The prime minister’s team should also have chief ministers apart from his council of ministers,” Modi suggested.
Modi hinted at redefining the role of the planning commission in the new setup with state chief ministers joining the new model of governance in true federal spirit. “We do not believe in confrontation and will provide governance with consensus,” Modi said.
“The planning commission will have to identify relative strengths of each state while making plans,” he added.
Modi cited surplus budget, booming exports, high per capita income and large infrastructure investments in Gujarat as testimony to his conviction for providing good governance.
Taking a dig at the UPA claim of bringing in a dozen laws and ordinances that are in the pipeline, Modi said, “Less laws and no lawlessness, providing governance as a trustee and removing trust deficit would be the way forward.”
Promising a ‘good deal’ for youth, Modi said yesteryears’ ‘antyodaya’ scheme introduced by the Vajpayee government would serve as basis for tackling poverty and hunger issues.
On putting India back on high growth trajectory, the Gujarat chief minister said, “It’s not very difficult if we can achieve double-digit farm growth in all the 29 states.”
He emphasised the need for healthcare and education reforms while promising to overhaul teaching and improve the quality of teachers without limiting to just improving infrastructure. “We should be exporting teachers at all levels as there’s a huge demand for teachers the world over” said Modi.
In healthcare, Modi said ‘preventive healthcare’ and ‘quality healthcare’ would be focus, leading to lower health budgets.
With regards to services, Modi asked industry to put their money on providing biotechnology and environment technology solutions while moving up the value chain in IT-enabled services.
“Technology would be an overarching part of providing good governance as well as economic revival,” Modi promised, to the thumping of desks by several industry leaders.
He said manufacturing, agriculture and services apart from trade would be treated as the three pillars of our economic policy. “Focus and invest on technology development and human resources management” he advised industry.
Modi said making investments along with innovations and research to improve productivity would raise productivity and yields in the farm sector.
On reviving investments, he said, “We will remove all hurdles in domestic and foreign investments. Investments would be made not just in industry but even in irrigation, agriculture and water management.”
He also gave enough hints about revamping all cash doles and job guarantee schemes announced by the UPA government. “We must link all jobs and food schemes to creation of assets in villages like drinking water, sanitation infrastructure etc., even at individual households,” said Modi.
On containing the current account deficit, Modi suggested a definitive plan of action. “Trade and commerce would be prime agenda. Foreign policy would be given new direction to fit into this agenda,” he said.
For women, Modi said, “They will be equitable partners in development and account for 50 per cent of the GDP.” In this context, he cited that women dominate sectors like animal husbandry and dairy industry, agriculture, primary education, handicraft, nursing, manufacturing and services.
Unveiling a plan for energy security, Narendra Modi said solar energy would find prime place. A hydroelectric power corridor would be set up for the eastern states, wind energy clusters in the southern region and solar energy projects would be linked up with agriculture and irrigation across the country. In this context, he said that cost of solar energy was on decline while both coal and gas-based power were becoming more expensive. Modi also cited the case of the US that has successfully exploited shale gas to reduce its dependence on energy imports.