Dr. Ashwani Kumar, Minister of State for Planning, Science and Technology, and Earth Sciences delivered a keynote address at the first CII-USIBC Economic Summit. Dr. Ashwani Kumar is in Washington as a member of the high profile Ministerial delegation to participate in the 3rd India-US Strategic Dialogue. Speaking at the session on Economic Security the Minister spoke on ‘India’s Growth story: in quest of inclusive growth’. The session was chaired by the incoming chairman of the USIBC Mr. Ajay Banga and co-chaired by the President of CII Mr. Adi Godrej.
The Minister stated that while India would not remain totally insulated from the global economic slowdown, the fundamentals of Indian economy remained sound. The economy will continue to expand, propelled by a large urban and growing middle class. He said that by 2020 India’s landscape will undergo a vast transformation. The large Indian middle class will have strong purchasing power. Almost 70% of India’s GDP will be contributed to by urban India and about 40% of India’s population will live in cities. He said India would need to invest over a trillion US Dollar in the renewal of urban infrastructure alone. He invited U.S. corporates to invest in this large endeavour in PPP mode.
He expressed confidence that India would grow at 7% in the current fiscal and, if the international economic situation does not deteriorate, then an average growth rate of 8.5% was possible in the next five years.
On governance issues Minister Kumar listed the priorities of the Government of India including bringing in efficiencies in the delivery of public services and transparency in governance for which government had taken various initiatives including the UID project. He said that the flagship programmes of the UPA government were aimed at inclusive growth to empower those living on the margins.
Hon’ble Minister strongly rebutted the notion that there was “policy paralysis” in India. He asserted that while there may have been challenges for the Government to enact second generation economic reforms, important executive decisions have continued to be taken. Government has been able to increase coal production by 1% last year; added 20GW of electricity in 2011-2012 (more than the electricity production of last five years); and awarded projects for the construction of over 7900 kms of road network. He said that the nation and the international community would see strong progress in implementation of second generation of economic reforms soon. The Government is also committed to fiscal prudence and reducing its deficit from 5.9% of the GDP to eventually 4.5% of GDP. The stimulus package of 2008 has served the Indian economy well. It would also be Government‘s effort to leverage country’s strength in human resources and to strengthen its manufacturing and to increase trade in high technology products.
The Government had also prioritized innovation to address India’s developmental challenges. He argued for strong external partnerships in the field of science and technology to achieve the goal of inclusive growth. For India equitable economic growth and sustainable development will always go together. He called for strengthening the foundation of comprehensive partnership with the US. Both countries stood at the same side of the history at the moment and faced common challenges. The meeting was attended by representatives of leading Indian and American companies. Dr. Kumar reassured the gathering that India was committed to providing a stable and predictable legal regime and the nation remained committed to honouring all of its legal and international commitments.