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​8-10% growth rate must for India: Singapore deputy PM

by August 27, 2016 General

NEW DELHI: A growth rate of 8-10% was not a luxury but a necessity for India as it was engaged in a race against demographics that made creation of jobs in an inclusive framework for millions a matter of absolute urgency, Singapore deputy PM Tharman Shanmugaratnam said on Friday.

India must score in fours and sixes rather than singles as even 8-10% growth for 20 years would mean a per capita GDP that was 70% of China’s, Shanmugaratnam said while delivering the first annual Niti Aayog lecture on ‘Transforming India.’ Stating that “urgency is not natural in politics”, the Singapore leader said incorporation of technology, particularly emerging frontiers of artificial intelligence, was essential to improve productivity and address big gaps in education, health and sanitation.

“India has the largest unfulfilled potential of any country I know in the world and it needs urgency to achieve that,” he said while arguing that India was uniquely positioned to recast a “negative” global narrative if it engaged in “strategic interaction with the global economy.” Ruling out business-as-usual, Shanmugaratnam said “This potential is fully within reach. But it cannot be achieved with current day policies. It requires, as PM Narendra Modi just said, rapid transformation not gradual evolution.

“Put globally, India over-intervened in its economy and under-invested in social and human capital. It has overreached itself in regulating its economy. To achieve its full potential, it will therefore have to do less in some area and have to do a lot more in other areas,” he said.

India did not lack capabilities, he said, adding that three Indian firms — Hindustan Unilever, TCS and Sun Pharma — had made it to the list of this year’s Forbes most innovative 100 companies. But big firms remained a rarity as land and banking laws discouraged economic activity, he added.

Highlighting the high dropout rate in upper primary schools, Shanmugaratnam said schools were facing the “biggest crisis” in India. He pointed to the “biggest gap” in talent at the top and unfulfilled potential at the bottom. He said 43% students dropped out before finishing upper primary school.

The address was followed by a panel discussion which was moderated by Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya. Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Uma Bharati and Jitendra Singh asked questions on liberalisation and IT.