India will get its growth back with more structural reforms that would change the course of our country to cope with the challenges of Covid-19 with private sector as a partner in the development journey. This was the salutary message of Prime Minister Narendra Modi through a video conference to the 125th Annual Session of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) in the capital. Without mincing words, Mr. Modi reassured the captains of the industry that “together we will definitely get our growth back”.
By way of instilling confidence in the beleaguered domestic entrepreneurs, the Prime Minister asserted that his unflinching trust in the country’s capabilities and crisis management, in India’s diverse talents and technology, in its innovation and intellect, in the toiling farmers of the nation and the vital cogs in the economy—the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) all make him hopeful in getting the growth bounce back before long. With the MSME segment accounting for 30 per cent for the GDP, the latest clarity in its definition, the scrapping of global tender for government procurement upto Rs. 200 crore in its favour would help this sector make the self-reliant economy a fuel for the engine of the MSME sector, the Prime Minister pertinently pointed out.
With the economy surmounting the twin troubles of slowdown of activity in the real sectors and the lockdown imposed restrictions following the spread of Covid-19 pandemic since March 25, the government has been relentlessly on the proactive mode to retrieve lost ground. Besides unfurling a jumbo revival package to provide relief to all the stakeholders of the humongous order of Rs. 20 lakh crore, only a few weeks ago; the Prime Minister gave a fervent call for a self-reliant India- the Aatmanirbhar Bharat- with five pillars—economy, infrastructure, system, vibrant demography and demand.
Elaborating on the issue of how reforms in the country were systematic, integrated and inter-connected, the Prime Minister singled out the recent steps in the farm front that covered the amendment of the Essential Commodities Act, Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee Act and allowing grains and farm produce stored in warehouses to be sold through electronic trading to open up avenues for agri-business. Labour reforms too were undertaken to enhance employment opportunities to preclude any disruption to production due to labour shortage or its mobility across sectors.
It is also now a reality that non-strategic sectors in which the private industry was not earlier allowed have now been opened up. Commercial mining in the coal sector has been permitted, Prime Minister Modi said that the direction in which the government was moving-whether in mining or energy or research and technology, both the industry and the youth would get numerous opportunities for advancement.
Significantly, as part of rendering Make in India a major vehicle for employment, work has begun to reduce dependence on import on sectors such as furniture, air conditioner, leather and footwear. The Prime Minister highlighted how India churns out three lakh personal protective equipment (PPE) kits a day; not a single PPE kit was being made in the country just three months ago, this speaks volumes of the success of indigenization efforts which need to be nurtured.
Rightly he spelt out that Aatmanirbhar Bharat meant full integration with the global economy and also supportive of it and not isolationist. In this context, he appealed to the Indian industry to invest for the creation of a Robust Local Supply Chain that reinforces the country’s stake in the global supply chain and urged industry bodies like the CII to come forward in a new role post-corona focusing on the need to have products made in the country for supply to the world as also in the domestic markets. The Prime Minister’s confidence-building measures to industry and unstinted assistance for self-reliant development to get the growth momentum back on track has come at the right time.
Script: G. Srinivasan, Senior Economic Journalist