PM Modi should not stop at thinking big, but should also act big

Prime minister Narendra Modi made a spirited case for turning India into a buzzing $5 trillion economy by 2022. It is very significant that Modi spelt out his plan amidst global investors when he spoke on the issue on Friday. The prime minister evidently has a dream of taking India to the next level.

The International Monetary Fund had projected that India will evolve as the fifth largest economy globally by 2019, moving up two places from the seventh position right now. It is possible that Modi based his arguments on this very premise to justify his views on India’s growth prospects.

The prime minister cited some compelling facts. For instance, India’s contribution to world GDP is 3.08 per  cent as against 2.43 per  cent in 2013. Foreign investors have pumped in $62.3 billion in the last one year. During the entire four years of the Modi regime, foreign investors have brought in a massive $209 billion. Meanwhile, India has emerged as the seventh-largest global services provider with a $162 billion stake in the sector. The information technology exports have crossed the $116 billion mark in 2017. Indian companies have gone out to pick up lucrative businesses globally with investments worth $120.7 billion in 2017 alone. India’s foreign exchange reserves crossed $419.8 billion on January 1 this year.

These data points cited by prime minister give policymakers in India and investors abroad the confidence that economic expansion to $5 trillion is doable. The number crunching also points to India moving a long way from being part of the infamous ‘fragile five’ economies internationally. In fact, the UNCTAD investment report had ranked India as the favourite investment destination globally. If various investors’ reports are any indication, India figures among the top three prospective host economies globally. A big movement in the ease of doing business ranking may also propel India’s shift in the global sweepstakes.

It’s not the macro numbers alone that provide the confidence for movement forward. For instance, over 1.1 lakh gram panchayats have been connected with optical fibre network in just three years as against 59,000 villages in the past. As a part of huge reforms, over 400 central schemes have been put on direct benefits transfers (DBT) as against 28 services earlier. Mobile manufacturing companies in the country have shot up to 120 from earlier three thereby reducing the imports by more than half. As part of the ‘New India’ vision that the Prime Minister unveiled, he challenged investors, companies and other stakeholders to chart out plans to expand India’s economy to $10 trillion by 2030.

Doubting Thomases would scoff at these projections as day dreaming. However, there is an element of aggression when Modi speaks of his vision. Think tanks like Niti Aayog will have to work in close partnership with the PMO to chart out a course of action. Translating this vision into a doable work programme by 2022 would be the next challenge. One needs to take it head on.