‘People, planet, profit’ is PM Modi’s mantra to industry
PM Narendra Modi’s remarks come in the backdrop of data showing that the Indian economy grew at 3.1% in the last quarter, with growth rate for 2019-2020 slipping to 4.2%, the slowest in 11 years on the back of falling investment and consumption.Updated: Jun 12, 2020 01:42 IST
Reiterating his call to convert the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis into an opportunity to make India self-reliant, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked industry to focus on “people, planet and profit” and create globally competitive supply chains; emphasised on a policy shift from “command and control” to a “plug and play” economy; and urged citizens to promote “local” companies and products.
Addressing the 95th annual plenary session of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Kolkata over video conference on Thursday, he said the entire world was gripped by the pandemic, and was fighting to overcome it. “But, amidst all this, every Indian citizen is showing a resolve to transform this disaster into an opportunity and to make this into a major turning point,” he said. He defined the turning point as a “self-reliant India”, and claimed that while this had been the aspiration of Indians for several years, it was being pursued in both policies and actions for the last 5-6 years.
PM Modi gave a call for an “Atmnirbhar Bharat” in his address to the nation on May 12 when he announced a package of Rs 20 lakh crore to revive the economy that was battered by the pandemic.
The PM’s remarks come in the backdrop of official data showing that the Indian economy grew at 3.1% in the last quarter, ending March 31, with growth rate for 2019-2020 slipping to 4.2%, the slowest in 11 years on the back of falling investment and consumption. A sharp fall in gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected in this fiscal year due to prolonged 68-day lockdown, imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.
The government has focused on self-reliance as the framework to deal with the crisis. In his address, PM Modi said the government will take steps to reduce import dependence and encourage local manufacturing. He urged businessmen to set up globally-competitive domestic supply chains. “This is not the time for a conservative approach. It is time for bold decisions and bold investments,” he said, pointing to how India can lead in the manufacturing of several products such as medical equipment, defence production, solar panels, batteries, chip manufacturing and aviation.
In particular, the PM called for reviving the historical superiority of West Bengal in manufacturing, and said, “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.” ICC is the primary business chamber of east and Northeast India, with Kolkata as its base. The BJP is also locked in a fierce political battle with the ruling Trinamool Congress in the state, and is attempting to win power in assembly elections in the state next year. The PM also mentioned how the government’s emphasis on developing clusters for local produce will help the Northeast, which can become a “huge hub for organic farming”.
The PM also asked industry to focus on three factors — “people, planet and profit” — and said all the three were interdependent. The PM gave the example of LED bulbs. Five years ago, an LED bulb cost ~350. But the same, he said, was now available for about ~50. This provided relief to the people, saved electricity bills worth ~19,000 crore and protected the environment. He gave another example — of waterways, and said people benefited by using it, logistics costs were reduced, and it was better for the environment.
The PM’s other focus was on citizens themselves, and the need to promote local. Quoting Swami Vivekananda, who said that Indians must use their own produce and get markets for Indian products in other countries, the PM said that this path was an inspiration for India in the post-Covid world.
The PM’s remarks come even as international agencies and analysts continue to debate the nature of contraction in the Indian economy over the year due to the pandemic. Fitch Ratings on Wednesday forecast a 5% contraction in the GDP this financial year, but said it expected growth to rebound to 9.5% in the next year.
S&P Global Ratings, on Wednesday, said that following a 5% contraction in the current fiscal year, the economy was likely to achieve a strong 8.5% growth in the next fiscal year. S&P hoped that the recent structural reforms announced by the government along with fiscal incentives in the “Atmnirbhar Bharat” package would boost the economy. “While risks to India’s long-term growth rate are rising, ongoing economic reforms, if executed well, should keep the country’s growth rate ahead of peers,” it said.
Key structural reforms announced recently include credit support for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), allowing marketing freedom to farmers, liberalisation of commercial mining activities, a policy of drawing back the scale of public sector enterprises, and opening up defence and space sectors for private entrepreneurs. Earlier, in September 2019, the government had slashed corporate tax rates to make India a manufacturing destination, which, according to S&P, should “reinforce growth” alongside additional fiscal and monetary easing.