Modi’s new development paradigm

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 16, 2014 01:01 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday unveiled a development paradigm to steer the economy out of its sticky slowdown asking foreign investors to set up hubs, even as he invoked Mahatma Gandhi’s Swadeshi philosophy to make India self-reliant in manufacturing.

“I would like to pose a question to my youngsters as to why despite them, we are forced to import even the smallest of things?” Modi said in his maiden Independence Day speech as India’s prime minister.

“My country’s youth can resolve it, they should conduct research, try to find out as to what type of items are imported by India and then each one should resolve that, through micro or small industries only, he would manufacture at-least one such item so that we need not import the same in future,” he said.

The decision to replace the Planning Commission with a new contemporary body also goes hand-in-hand with the objectives of converting India into a manufacturing hub by asking investors — domestic and foreign — to “Come, make in India”, experts said.

Modi, who assumed office in May after a landslide election victory, is grappling the key issue of spinning jobs for the teeming millions that are joining the workforce.

The government faces the difficult job of juggling long-term economic reforms that might involve some bitter fiscal pills with the electoral promise to usher in good days (Acche din) to a nation that added only 15 million jobs during 2005-12.

This is in stark contrast to the previous period when between 1999 and 2005 an additional 60 million jobs were created.

In a speech peppered with several catchy alliterations, Modi pencilled-in skill development as a key priority area in the government’s new development paradigm. Plans also include a specific focus on skill enhancement with a bid to enable employability of millions of young people who join the queue of job hopefuls every year.

“We have young people, they are unemployed but the kind of young people we seek are not available. If we have to promote the development of our country then our mission has to be ‘skill development’ and ‘skilled India’, the prime minister said.

For a country that is set to become one of the world’s top five economies over the next decade, India cannot afford to allow a significant number of its citizens to remain outside the banking net.

The statistics are telling. More than four out of ten adults in India still do not have a bank account. From a global perspective, the country still has a lot of catching up to do.

In India, for every 100,000 population there are about 11 bank branches and about 10 automated teller machines (ATMs) that dispense cash and offer sundry other banking facilities.

In Brazil, one of the four pillars of the BRIC quartet, the same population is served by 47 branches and by about 120 ATMs.

The contrast tells a story on how, and why, Brazil — a country at a roughly similar rung as India on the development scale — has been successfully able to put in place efficient delivery systems for its state-administered welfare schemes. Modi’s plans on financial inclusion also dove-tails in the new development script. He announced a new scheme for financial inclusion — the Jan Dhan Yojana — where every poor family will receive an insurance cover of `1 lakh and a bank account.

“This will bring in more people into the formal banking channels,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, Confederation of Indian Industry.

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