Sunday, December 5, 2021

Rural India Will Drive The 21st Century Economy, Says Prime Minister

Robust foreign fund inflow into India is fast becoming a mark of the country’s economic resilience. At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic brought world powers to their knees, India embarked on the path of reforms, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi making clear that rural India will drive the 21st century economy.

In a clear message to India’s business community, Prime Minister Modi has articulated that the next leg of economic growth will come from the rural areas. Half of the Start-up ecosystem in India is buzzing with entrepreneurs coming from semi-urban areas and smaller cities. The government has unveiled a major scheme to expand the scope of public Wi-Fi across the country. With the internet driving the economy by helping the supply chain integration, rural parts of the country truly hold the promise to gain the centre-stage in the 21st century. The PM-WANI (wi-fi network) scheme to foster broadband expansion rightly has the potential to nurture India’s next generation of entrepreneurs.

Addressing the 93rd annual general meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Mr. Modi rightly said that the business community shouldn’t miss out on the opportunities in rural India. The context is indeed the long awaited agrarian reforms. With steps taken to free the agrarian trade from hindrances, Indian farmers truly have the opportunity to become part of the global food supply chain. That will surely be incumbent upon private investment. The gainful place in the global food supply chain would depend on India’s abilities to modernize the cornerstone of its’ rural economy. The cold storages, food processing, mechanization, micro-irrigation are the critical areas awaiting the private investment. Prime Minister Modi clearly stated that private investment would open new doors for the farmers for qualitative transformation in their lives.

The past two quarters give credence to Prime Minister’s assertions, for agriculture’s contribution in the GDP had been positive. In the face of thousands of farmer producers’ organizations taking shape, the time for the agro-business to take flight to newer heights has indeed come.

That India has clocked record foreign direct investment and inflow of foreign portfolio investment during the pandemic, truly affirms the trust of global investors in the India story. India’s ability to protect millions of vulnerable sections affected by the pandemic related restrictions is also getting global accolades. The banking inclusion of the poor within the enabling architecture of biometric “Aadhaar” truly ensured seamless direct transfer of benefits. Prime Minister Modi said that the government is working with the spirit to make bridges in place of walls for each sector in the economy. The ‘Atmanirbhar’ package is truly aligned to strengthening each sector to allow them to play their roles to the best of their capacities. “The all-round reforms have touched manufacturing and the medium and small enterprises, agriculture and technology, taxation and real-estate,” said Mr Modi.

The economy cannot shine with just one or two sectors performing. Prime Minister Modi observed that all sectors have been given due attention, with hand-holding framework put in place for the weak areas. The large industries do foster growth of the small and medium enterprises, which in turn spread the growth wings to the cottage enterprises in the semi-urban and rural areas. With the Prime Minister stressing on continuous reforms, the business community truly has the comfort of a predictable eco-system to work with. The simplification of labour laws into four codes has also been put in place.

There’s also a paradigm shift in the approach of the state governments. They are going extra-mile to attract investments. This augurs well, because the fuel to the engine of the 21st century economy has to come from the states. With receptive state governments, the flow of the private investment to the tier-II and tier-III cities and the rural areas shouldn’t face any hindrance.

Script: MANISH ANAND, Senior Special Correspondent, the New Indian Express


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