- Sharp divisions of opinion emerged in a debate over the performance of the five-month-old government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its ability to shape a fair, free and prosperous India
- There is no contradiction between being pro-business and pro-poor, government minister argues
- For more information about the India Economic Summit, visit: http://www.weforum.org/india
New Delhi, India, 6 November 2014 – A debate over India’s outlook under its five-month-old government on the final day of the India Economic Summit showed the divisions of opinion on the performance and promise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his administration.
There is a new confidence in India, reckoned Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy of India. “Investor confidence is at an all-time high.” He argued that the government has increased transparency and is taking steps to implement fiscal prudence, stabilize the economy and return it to the high growth rates of previous years, address corruption, cut bureaucracy and address challenges such as financial inclusion, the infrastructure deficit, and skills development and education.
“The government believes there is no contradiction between being pro-business and pro-poor,” Goyal asserted. “When business succeeds, we will improve the lives of the people.”
India is going in the right direction, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, agreed. “The path that India has taken will ensure that, in five to seven years, we will be a new society.” He added: “[Prime Minister Modi] is involving the nation like no other leader has before. Society has to be involved to change this country. I have never seen a more hardworking and transparent government.”
Modi, Mittal observed, is focusing on addressing bottlenecks and creating the enabling environment for the economy to prosper. The prime minister is aiming to change mindsets. “We must give it some time,” Mittal advised. “After five months, we are trying to judge 67 years of governments.”
India under the Modi government remains divided, warned Aruna Roy, Founder of MKSS-Organization for the Empowerment of Workers and Peasants. “There is the other India that is unhappy and distressed by a whole spate of promises that have not been fulfilled.” She expressed concern that Modi is not moving fast enough: “We are very uncomfortable. There is more rhetoric but very little action and, in some cases, they are going backwards. We don’t know what the government is doing. It is an opaque government. We don’t have a roadmap.”
While Modi has been using social media to communicate with the people, the conversation has gone only in one direction, Roy said. “He’s there as a representative of all of us. But he can’t just tweet to us. He can’t just have an email address. He has to talk to us.”
The prime minister is aware that the whole world is watching and assessing his performance, Minister Goyal responded. “He will ensure that there is development for all. He does not want to segregate society. Rather than giving lip service, he is on the ground working for justice for all.” Goyal concluded: “After years of deprivation, this is a process that won’t happen in a month.”
The World Economic Forum is an international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation in the spirit of global citizenship. It engages with business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Forum is independent, impartial and not tied to any interests. It cooperates closely with all leading international organizations (www.weforum.org).