After three years into the office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has started facing questions over slow economic growth, little job creation and recurrent agrarian crisis.
While the government has in all these years introduced multiple initiatives -Make in India, Skill India, Startup India- to address these challenges, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to make a considerable impact on the ground.
The highest policy body NITI Aayog's chief Amitabh Kant answered Business Today's questions on some of the most pressing challenges ahead of the government.
While answering the recent slowdown in economic growth, Amitabh Kant said: "We are now growing about roughly 7.6 per cent per annum. But, our hunger and ambition should be to grow at 9 to 10 per cent. And, that's why the government has introduced vast number of structural changes from bankruptcy law to national company law tribunal to GST."
According to Niti Aayog CEO, the challenge before the government is to revive the animal's spirit of the private sector. Kant further explained what he meant by it, he said, "The government has put a lot of resources to drive infrastructure. Road sector is growing at about 40 per cent per annum, aviation sector is growing at about 39 per cent, railway sector is growing at about 28 per cent. They all are growing on the back of good public sector investment. In the first two months of this year, the expenditure of the government have gone up by 55 per cent and 68 per cent growth in capital expenditure. However, in the long run it would be very difficult for India to grow unless or until we don't have much greater level of private investment and that is waiting for demand to grow. So, demand will grow, private sector investment will happen which will converge and integrate with the government investments which will make India to grow at higher level."
Coming down to another serious issue of job creation, Kant said that, "There are two kind of challenges, one is to create jobs and second is to increase the earnings of the people who are already employed." Kant referred to the government's initiative to promote entrepreneurship by providing loans to people under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojna, he said: "Almost 45 per cent people who have taken Mudra loans are already in enterprises and they want to increase their incomes." Kant explained how the nature of job is changing. "Uber has created over 4 lakh jobs and Ola has created 6.5 lakh jobs. These are not the jobs for drivers but for young entrepreneurs who own cars," he said.
Niti Aayog CEO underlined the challenges that the farmers are grappled with. He said: "Agriculture sector is riddled with middle men. We need to ensure that the farmers get the right prices. The farmers are able to get technology. Therefore, we are talking about eNAM -National Agriculture Market- we are also talking about Mandis getting digitized, not only in that area but all across the country so that farmers are able to get the real price." According to Kant, technology, access to market and the availability of fertilizer and seed at the right time based on the weather and soul condition are some of the main challenges for the farmers.