By Arul Louis
New York, July 18 (IANS) “The government has no intention at all of being the main driver of growth in the country” and this role will be taken up by the private sector, according to India’s Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar.
The Indian government will give the private sector the space and the incentives to carry out this nation-building role, he said on Wednesday at the India Investment seminar at India’s consulate-general here.
He said that during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first term a lot of the foundational work on the economy had been done with the focus on inclusion and now the consensus in the government is for accelerated growth, he said.
India is on the cusp of a major transformation over the next five year, Kumar said. “You will see a decade plus of sustained high growth”. This cannot be achieved by the public sector alone and the private sector has to play a key role as a massive amount of investment is required, he said.
For the first time, invitation has gone out to the private sector to invest in the railways, he said giving an example.
The government is willing to take its investments below 50 percent in what are now public sector undertakings, he said.
Among the sectors that require attention to spur growth, he listed agriculture, mining, textiles and leather and mobility as well as the exports sector, which, he said, has suffered.
India has to make better use of external demand and spur exports through small and medium enterprises while creating better opportunities for “Make in India”, he said.
He emphasised the role of the small and medium sector, which is where there was “the hunger” for growth.
In agriculture, there have hardly been any investments and they were needed to shift to different kinds of crops and expand agroindustries, he said.
Answering an audience question about water scarcity, he linked the problem — as well as the solution – to agriculture. At the moment about 90 percent of the water is consumed by agriculture, which utilises it for crops like rice, wheat and sugar cane of which there is an excess production, he said.
If there is a shift to horticulture, with the processing needed for it, water could be freed up for other uses, he said.
He said that moving agriculture labour out of agriculture while making India an agricultural exporter is another avenue for growth.
Asked by an entrepreneur why he should invest in India, Kumar said that he would straight away have access to a huge market and he will be able to get the smartest brains anywhere and partner with the savviest entrepreneurs.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)