New Delhi, India, 6 November 2014 – The new Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is moving forward with policies and reforms aimed at putting the economy back on an 8%-plus growth trajectory, the Co-Chairs of the India Economic Summit concluded in the closing session of the meeting. “The policy-making is moving forward,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, Director-General of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Added James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways in the United Arab Emirates: “There is effective leadership from the government and commercial sector. I leave convinced that there is a very clear roadmap moving forward.”
“The government came across as having new energy,” Anand Mahindra, Chairman and Managing Director of Mahindra & Mahindra, told participants. “People sensed that there is a new agenda as well – a business-friendly agenda. This is a government that has business in its blood. It is ready to listen and knows what it has to do. Paralysis is not something you can use to describe it.” While there may be no “big-bang” reform programme, “there have been several incremental steps across the spectrum with the objective of doing business easier,” Banerjee observed.
There are many challenges ahead, the Co-Chairs warned. The government’s extensive agenda for action includes infrastructure, land, labour, trade facilitation, infrastructure – particularly the power sector, subsidies and the allocation of natural resources. It must also address social issues such as gender and the social norms that impede women from advancement and security. “Women in India are moving,” documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy of SOC Films in Pakistan, remarked. “But unless mindsets change, women will not be able to be equal partners in society.”
Over 700 business, government and civil society leaders, including five heads of state or government, participated in the summit, which was convened under the theme Redefining Public-Private Cooperation for a New Beginning. In the opening plenary, Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley stressed the government’s commitment to wide-ranging reforms. Restructuring measures will be carefully calibrated so that they really address India’s needs, Jaitley said. “We are quite satisfied with the beginning made, but there is a long journey ahead.”
Other ministers stressed the government’s determination to unblock bottlenecks that impede India from returning to the higher growth level that the economy had achieved before the global crisis. In a session on the infrastructure deficit, Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, reiterated the government’s pledge to build 30 kilometres of roads and highways a day within two years, up from the current rate of three kilometres a day.
In a session on India’s growth outlook, leading business figures expressed confidence in the Modi administration but called for patience to allow reforms to work through. “This government’s policy is continuously to make changes in all areas,” said Ajay S. Shriram, President of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Chairman and Senior Managing Director of DCM Shriram. “It will take time. We are seeing results and the right direction.”