PM Modi stresses on India’s economic potential, defends new farm laws
India’s economic potential remains strong despite the pandemic, and that the global narrative has changed from “why India?” to “why not India?”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday while addressing business lobby group ASSOCHAM’s Foundation Week 2020, when he also defended the latest farm laws that have triggered widespread protests.
The PM reiterated that farmers had benefited from a set reforms approved in June, including the three agricultural laws that thousands of farmers are protesting for weeks now. He said despite a pandemic-induced contraction in gross domestic product (GDP) of 7.5% in the July-September quarter, the country had attracted significant foreign direct investment and business activity was fast recovering.
The PM called on industry heads to raise investment in research and development to achieve the goal of self-reliance. He highlighted a series of new reforms that laid a strong basis for long-term growth. These reforms had helped the world turn to India as the top business destination.
“Reforms, repealing of more than 1,500 outdated laws, ease in labour laws, red tape being replaced by red carpet and competitive tax rates and innovations have turned the past’s rhetoric of “why India?” into “Why not India?”, Modi said, addressing a gathering of industrialists.
Modi appeared to stress on the importance of reforms in the farm sector set in motion by the three contentious laws to deregulate agricultural markets. allow food traders to stockpile large quantities of food stocks and create a national framework of contract farming. These reforms have set off one of the largest farmers’ protest in decades.
Modi also presented the “Assocham Enterprise of the Century Award” to Ratan Tata, who received the award on behalf of the Tata Group. PM said that the Tata Group has contributed to the development of the country under the leadership of Ratan Tata. Tata thanked the Prime Minister for the award and appreciated his strong leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.
“In all the years that I have been in business, I have valued what our PM has been wanting to do. He has led the country through the pandemic for which we should be obliged. If we all stand together and follow what you have said and what you have shown, we will have a situation where the world will look at us and say this Prime Minister said it could happen and he made it happen,” Ratan Tata, chairman Tata Trusts said at the ASSOCHAM event.
The Prime Minister set a goal of doubling down on economic growth in the next 27 years when India will celebrate its 100th years of Independence in 2047. “This is the time to plan and act and focus on nation-building as the next 27 years will decide India’s global role,” Prime Minister Modi said.
Modi said India was emerging as a top competitor in key areas that will define its place in the global economy.
India’s youth are making a name in startups and the country’s digital payments and other infrastructure make it a leading country in this field, Modi said. India’s startup ecosystem has showed world-beating growth. In 2019, over 1,300 startups were registered, a year when private equity investments in the sector hit a 10-year-high, attracting $17.3 billion and clocking annual growth of 60.5%.
Analysts say the Prime Minister was right to call for higher private investment in R&D. “The fundamentals of our economy remain strong. R&D is one critical area where we need to strap up. The PM seemed to suggest that the pandemic’s blow to the economy is temporary and he is more concerned India’s economic growth in the next two decades or so,” said Ashu Narang, partner, PacerPro Investments Pvt Ltd.
“During the pandemic, India solidified its position as the pharmacy of the world by supplying and exporting medicines the world over,” Modi said, adding the country had received record FDI in the midst of a pandemic.
“In coming years, for Atmanirbhar Bharat, all of you should exert all possible force which can be mustered. World is heading towards another Industrial Revolution. So, from today we must plan and act on achieving our nation-building targets,” the PM said.