It is a matter of serious concern (the Economic Survey pegging the current economic growth rate at 5 per cent). It brings us close to reality.
When the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) had recently said that the economic growth rate had fallen to 5 per cent, the government had expressed serious concerns on the veracity of that report. Now, the Economic Survey reconfirms it.
This is a warning bell; from a 9 per cent growth situation, we are down to a 5 per cent situation. At this growth rate, the current social security and poverty alleviation schemes cannot be sustained.
It is time that the polity drew up a programme on how to get back to the 9 per cent growth (curve). Unless we achieve a growth rate of 9 per cent for over a decade, we will not see a dip in poverty figures nor will the government have enough money in its pocket to even sustain the (current) poverty alleviation programmes.
Also, the manufacturing policy alone will not give a fillip to the manufacturing sector. What is needed is a series of manufacturing sector reforms so that India becomes a competitive as well as low-cost manufacturing hub. At the moment, there is global competition among low-cost economies and India needs to be featured in that scenario.
I anxiously await the Union Budget on Thursday morning to see what kind of programmes the Finance Minister (P. Chidambaram) outlines.
(Arun Jaitley is Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. He spoke to Business Today's Sebastian PT)