Modi govt let slip chance of economic growth: Chidambaram

Sharanya Munsi
Chennai: Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram  said on Monday that  the stage was set for India’s economic growth in 2014 yet the new government failed to make use of it.

P. Chidambaram addressing the audience in The Music Academy.
P. Chidambaram addressing the audience in The Music Academy.

“All the conditions were there for the new government to accelerate growth. The government also got a bonanza following the drop in oil prices. Yet India under the new government did not begin an uninterrupted growth story,” said Chidambaram,  delivering a public lecture organised by the The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy. He was addressing the lecture, ‘Will India Script an Unprecedented Growth Story?’

The former Finance Minister drew a timeline of India’s economic performance starting at 2004 saying, “Corruption affects a country’s economic growth. While irregularities in coal allotments affected the coal industry resulting in import of coal to meet its demand from power and other sectors, the 2G spectrum case affected the telecom sector’s growth,” he said.

He hinted at the inability of the NDA government to take advantage of new tried and tested administrative tools like Aadhar card and direct benefit transfer launched by the UPA.

On the other hand schemes like like Swacch Bahrata, International Yoga Day, Make in India, Stand-up India in 2014 implemented by the BJP -led government  had  resulted in little output. “There was a lot of activity but none of them contributed to the economic growth. They actually distracted the government from designing and implementing a reform program.”

Labeling 2016 as the most disruptive year in India’s growth story, he cited events like death of Dalit scholar Rohit Vemula, lynching incidents in Dadri and Una as well as mass protests in Kashmir following Burhan Wani’s death. All of these contributed to a general atmosphere of intolerance in the country. “The government seemed determined to rule in a hyper-Hindu nationalism wave,” said he.

He also talked of the recent Non-Performing Assets (NPA) scare which he called as a not so new phenomenon for it had happened in 2002 and 2007 and that banks had been able to recover after sufficient time. “But now bankers are threatened and due to this the bank credit to the industries has witnessed a negative growth,” he said.

Referring to the GST bill as the only economic reform post 2014, he said his count of true economic reforms since 1991 in India had stopped at 11. “The Indian economy must transit from consumption driven to investment driven and from service lead to manufacturing lead.”

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