The government’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative is not a closed economy but it’s being globally competitive, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said on Tuesday as he stressed the need for building trust between the private investor, the government, the academia and the civil society.
Self-reliance is not the same thing as self-sufficiency, he said about the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative at the 12th Foundation Day Lecture virtually on the topic “Atmanirbhar Bharat: Challenges in Implementation” organised by ICFAI Foundation for Higher Education, Deemed to-be University.
“It (‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’) does not in any sense mean a closed economy. Self-reliance is not the same thing as self-sufficiency and we need to be quite clear in our minds that what we mean by ‘atmanirbhar’ (self-reliant) is a globally competitive economy and getting integrated even more with the global trends and ‘Make in India for the World,” he said,
“Self-reliance in my view is increasing our share in global flows of merchandise and services trade. I think it’s time that we give ourselves the ambitious target of quadrupling our share in the next 20 years in global trade of merchandise and services,” Kumar said, adding “We need to ensure that our share in global flows of technology and finance also increases as we go forward. That is when we will become ‘atmanirbhar.”
Kumar said the economic aspect of being self-reliant would be by ensuring that at least by 2047 (when India celebrates its centenary of independence) our per capita incomes are at least equal to the global per capita income of today or may be even of that time. He further said the NITI Aayog is working with individual States to ensure that compliance burden on the private sector gets reduced.
The biggest challenge is to make our private investor become far more active than what it is and for the government to become a much better enabler for private investment in the country, he said. The NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman said “about this in terms of government as an enabler to promote, to infuse, to give impetus to private investment and private investor is I think building the trust between the private investors and the government.”
“I heard the other day and I was dismayed a very senior Secretary to the Government of India saying I never ever shared a cup of tea with a private industrialist. Those days have gone we have to work together with the private sector. All of us are working with the same national agenda. We have to build trust between the private investor, between the government, the academia and the civil society,” he added.
“All of us have to be on the same page. This is not going to be easy, but this is what we must achieve and start doing and this is the critical condition for us to move forward in achieving ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. Unless we do that we will not be able to compete with the rest of the world. In the rest of the world people come together and they work together and in countries where they do they succeed and in countries where they don’t they remain trapped in the middle income trap and we don’t want to be there,” Kumar said.
Emphasising the need to switch to natural farming and on the nutritional security for all citizens, Kumar said: “This is another aspect of our self-reliance which is to transform our agriculture by making it much more productive, make it much more nature-friendly, improve our farmers net incomes by lowering input costs and getting them better prices.”
He further stressed the need to ensure regional equality and said the most important aspect is to try and develop State specific development blueprints. He also emphasised on the last decile of the population as target segment of the government towards improving the economic conditions. C Rangarajan, Chancellor of ICFAI Foundation for Higher Education, Hyderabad, who presided over the event, said that the concept of self-reliance has a long history in India and it is subject to many interpretations.
He advised that adopting a policy of boosting exports by increasing import duties must be avoided. He also said that the country’s extreme dependence on import of oil and natural gas needs to be modified, and emphasised the need to have an energy plan in place. Rangarajan said, “We must be able to compete in the world, and hold our own in the world system,” adding ‘Make in India for the World’ is the new self-reliance policy to be followed.