Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke of India’s flagging economy in a televised address recently. He endorsed the need for growth that uplifts the poor, and acknowledged that the current 5 per cent growth rate was disappointing, but he nonetheless urged people to be optimistic. To bolster his point, he made reference to his last address to the same group, the Confederation of Indian Industry, in 2007, when India’s economy had grown at about 9 per cent in each of the three previous years:
“In my last address I chose to strike a contrarian note. When everything seemed to be going exceptionally well I struck a note of caution. I propose to strike a contrarian note again,” he said. “If the business mood was unduly optimistic in 2007 I think it is unduly pessimistic today.”
But how cautious was he actually? While Mr. Singh had indeed underscored the need for inclusive growth throughout his 2007 address at the C.I.I., he was hardly downbeat, a review of his speech six years ago shows. He said then:
“The results are there for all to see. It is not by accident that the average rate of economic growth has been 9 per cent in the last three years. It is not by chance that the savings rate of the country is 32 per cent of GDP and the rate of investment has touched an all-time peak of 35 per cent of our GDP. It is not by luck that the manufacturing sector is booming. It is not by good fortune that inward FDI is close to twenty billion dollars now. It is not by a miracle that we are today a trillion dollar economy.
“The private sector needs an environment in which enterprise can flourish and create both jobs and stimulate growth. It needs an environment which will ensure that this growth is inclusive. The environment today is not what it should be, and that is what the Government must correct”.
– Dr. Manmohan Singh
These are the results of balanced, prudent economic policies; policies which have focused on strengthening every aspect of infrastructure including airports, roads, railways and ports; policies which have reduced our revenue and fiscal deficits; policies which have promoted greater investment, both domestic and foreign; policies which have given a boost to manufacturing and services; policies which are designed to harvest the demographic dividend we are beginning to get from a youthful workforce; policies which have pushed development into our rural and backward areas; policies which have made India a great place to do business”. Six years later, Mr. Singh appears to have changed his tune somewhat. The Government is not responsible for growth after all, he said:
“Government is not the prime mover of growth. In a private sector led economy and I repeat, we are a private sector led economy with 75 per cent of investment being in the private sector, which includes farmers, small businesses and the corporate sector the driver of growth is indeed private investment. But the private sector needs an environment in which enterprise can flourish and create both jobs and stimulate growth. It needs an environment which will ensure that this growth is inclusive. The environment today is not what it should be, and that is what the Government must correct”. The Prime Minister’s office did not immediately return a call for comment.
Manmohan Will Not Be PM For Third Time, Says Bjp
The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has said that the country will not give a third term to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Responding to a remark made by the Prime Minister that he will continue in public life after 2014 too, the party said, Singh, a reluctant politician had shown his true colours by making such an “audaciously ambitious” statement. BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said the performance of Singh as Prime Minister in the last nine years was a matter of concern. “What his personal ambition or desire is entirely for him or his party to decide. The people may, therefore, despair the very idea of even remotely enduring him to be the Prime Minister for five more years,” Prasad added. He said under the UPA regime, the current account deficit had touched 6.7 per cent, which was worse than in 1991. “India’s growth story is practically over. People have lost all hope in this dispensation. Even trade and industrial bodies are raising critical questions about the manner in which India is governed,” Prasad said.
Third Front is History
Taking a dim view of Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav’s recent statements that a Third Front would emerge after the next elections, Prasad said such a combination had no relevance at present. “India of 2013 is not the India of 1996 or 1997,” he added. The BJP, along with the Congress, has been critical of Mulayam’s statements favouring a Third Front. Prasad also downplayed Mulayam’s statement praising senior BJP leader, L.K. Advani. He ruled out an alliance with SP. “We have basic differences with Mulayam. So, no alliance with the SP is possible either in the present or in the future,” Prasad said. “I am not afraid of anyone and that is why I speak the truth. I have never betrayed anyone. On the other hand, I was betrayed many times. I do what I say. There is no difference between what I say and what I do,” Mulayam said in Lucknow, adding that Congress has cheated its supporters whenever it was in power. He, however, has denied the report that SP will also withdraw the support to the Government.