India’s policy solutions inspired by a vision of a re-generative, inclusive and sustainable economy would ensure that the milestone of a ten trillion dollar economy is bound to happen in a robust manner at the global level. This was the broad conclusion of the World Economic Forum (WEF) President Berge Brende who shared her views at the India Economic Summit, jointly organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi. What is particularly noteworthy is that most of the participants including overseas and domestic leaders and business executives found an echo in the plausible observation. There is unanimity that “India could establish itself as a role model and inspiration” for the rest of the world to “emerge as a global leader by providing the world with replicable and scalable models for solutions to critical global challenges”.
WEF Managing Director Sarita Nayyar aptly noted that the latest batch of reforms such as bank mergers and corporate tax cuts have added to India’s attractiveness as an investment destination. The corporate rate tax cut was a much-needed spur for the economy. It now aligns India with its South and South-East Asian peers, pushing it to a pole position and competitive advantage in view of its vast domestic markets.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made a specious pitch for working together to defeat common challenges such as poverty confronting South Asia by leveraging the region’s inherent strength of pluralism, despite the regional ethnic and linguistic diversity. She said there is huge potential for the Indian business in different sectors in Bangladesh. In particular, Ms. Hasina said Dhaka sought to see “trade and investment together where Indian investors can set up industries in Bangladesh and export the products to North-Eastern States of India and to South-East Asian countries, taking advantage of the improved connectivity between us”. This seems to be a sensible way out to break the logjam in SAARC regional trading agreement that remained moribund in view of the lack of interest by Islamabad to energize cooperation on economic issues by holding political issues hostage to fortune, analysts observe.
India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar said that “the entire neighborhood minus one, has actually been fairly good story of regional cooperation while underlining “India’s relentless push for reinforcing ties with its neighbors”. The minus one Dr. Jaishankar left unsaid is an obvious reference to Pakistan which has been unsuccessfully raking up in global fora, the Kashmir issue which has been largely treated by the global community as an internal issue of India.
The United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross exuded hope that there was no reason why a trade deal between the US and India could not be signed before long, given the absence of any structural reason, a point that was highlighted by India’s Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal. This provides an impetus for an early resolution of the sticky bilateral issues including protectionism of domestic products in both the markets. When Secretary Ross pointed out that India must perforce have to “balance the interest of its small retailers by giving its populace access to cheaper products through e-commerce if it does not want to hold back on growth, Mr. Goyal maintained that e-commerce players could not act as predatory pricing platforms or “use muscle power of large capital” to destroy the livelihood security of India’s domestic small traders.
NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant highlighted the corporate tax rate cut, public sector disinvestment and asset monetization moves and also signaled that more reforms are on the anvil to further boost the economic growth in the country. Specifically he mentioned that the Indian economy has grown at about 7.5per cent in the last five years.
The two-day India-centric economic conclave, underpinned the giant strides India had made in terms of development while ensuring sustainable growth for its citizens. The Summit also signaled India’s unending quest to pursue its holistic structural reforms to bring about inclusive growth.
Script: G. Srinivasan, Senior Economic Journalist