While delivering the inaugural address at the 95th annual plenary session of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that any crisis provides us with opportunities. We must identify these opportunities to build a “self-reliant” India, which he had coined as “AtmaNirbhar Bharat”. He also emphasised that we are dealing with a huge public health crisis – the covid 19 pandemic – amidst the climate change crisis.
Indian economy is currently in the ‘command and control’ mode. The Prime Minister expressed the need for leading the nation to “plug and play” mode. The detailed methodologies of these announcements are awaited. Moving away from conservative approaches, India needs to prepare a globally competitive domestic supply chain. This requires bold investment decisions. Enhancing public investment is the need of the hour to attract private corporate investment.
Prime Minister Modi emphasized on reforms relating to infusing liquidity into MSMEs and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs). The economic package announced in several tranches by the Finance Minister has already included measures related to liquidity infusion into these sectors. The Prime Minister highlighted reforms like Indian Bankruptcy Code (IBC) for public sector restructuring. He also emphasized the ‘Project Development Cells’ for fast tracking of investments.
The recent policy decisions to liberate the agrarian economy to enable farmers to sell their product anywhere in the country, is indeed welcome. The gross capital formation in the agriculture sector has been on the decline over the years which has adversely affected the productivity of the sector. The renewed emphasis on agrarian infrastructure by the Prime Minister is a laudable policy initiative.
Mr. Modi reiterated his policy of making the North East, the hub of organic farming, through “cluster based approach” at decentralised levels. He said that organic farming can become a huge movement in the North East, if it is made a global identity and dominates the global market.
Prime Minister emphasized that “People, Planet and Profit” are interlinked. He cited examples from energy saving methods (for instance, the usage of LED for energy efficiency) and use of waterways to reduce the carbon prints. He also cited the significance of freeing the country from single use plastic. He encouraged the government of West Bengal for strengthening the jute business. He urged the industry to take advantage of the opportunity further.
Prime Minister Modi also said that “People-mattered” approaches would be central to governance. This is laudable as it is a clarion call to push the economic paradigm of the country from “growth” to “beyond growth” agenda. The policy paradigm should move ahead to “Beyond GDP” paradigm by putting people upfront, and “Leave Nobody Behind” should be the motto of the public policy.
The Prime Minister highlighted the significance of financial inclusion. The access of poor people to financial services is crucial. The poor cannot be treated as “unbankable clients”. The introduction of RuPay card has become crucial in creating self-reliant India and has become the handy card for the poor, farmers, and the middle class. He also emphasised the significance of BHIM App in financial transactions. The significance of delivering the “direct benefit transfers” to the poor through JAM (JanDhan, Aadhar and Mobile) is highlighted, for its effectiveness in preventing leakages of public service provisioning. The importance of GeM (Government eMarket) platform to assist Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and MSMEs are highlighted in his ICC address. He mentioned that GeM platform can enable the MSMEs and SHGs in providing their goods and services directly to the Govt of India.
Mr. Modi urged the industries to invest in Research and Development (R&D). He also asked them to manufacture good batteries to strengthen the power storage capacity of solar panel.
The Prime Minister hailed significance of the Indian Chamber of Commerce in the economic development of East India and the North East. Prime Minister urged the ICC for the “handholding” of industries in the region to reach the next level of productivity.
Script: Dr. Lekha S Chakraborty, Professor, National Institute of Public Finance & Policy