Tarun Das, Mr Lamba, a lot of familiar faces here, my apologies for being late, but I am trying to juggle too many engagements simultaneously. And I am sorry that you had to wait for me.
I have been at the Ananta engagements earlier and I have always found them very engaging, very enlightening. And I come to the Ananta Centre programmes more to learn, more to hear from you and get some feedback, get some ideas which we in government can take forward. So, I will try to be as brief as I can, which is not necessarily a very good indicator, because I do tend to go long.
It was Fathers’ Day yesterday, and actually, a day when I was reflecting what kind of a legacy are we going to leave behind for our children. Are we going to really leave behind a country that is bold, confident, looking for a brighter future for 1.2 billion people, a country that holds its head high in the comity of nations, a country that has respected both my friend and foe, and a country that is looked upon as a leader of the world economy in the years to come.
And as the honourable Prime Minister at the engagement with all the states yesterday in Niti Aayog mentioned, we believe the country is now poised to have ambitious targets and goals to look at a double digit growth in the future. And very clearly, The Growth Net very rightly points out that the country cannot progress unless there is growth, whether it is working opportunities, whether it is a better quality of life – all of them are centred around the country moving forward.
We will have to focus on stability in the country. We will have to look at the structure of growth going forward. We will have to look at the strength of governance and institutions in the country. And for that, the first basic element was the change in mindset. Until some years ago, I remember the mood of the nation would be one of despair, one of weakness. I remember not very long ago when compulsions of coalition politics were being cited as a reason why we can’t even attack corruption in the country.
I think that fundamental break from the old mindset has been one of the biggest challenges that this country had, and on which significant – in the language of all of you from the management world – management bandwidth has gone or government bandwidth has gone to address the changing mindset. Amongst various organisations, my own experience in the Indian railways has possibly been the most challenging where you are trying to change the mindset of a 160-year old legacy, issues which are today where they were 100 years ago.
And, the country is evolving, country is moving beyond what many of us in this room will remember as the earliest slogans of the 70s when the issue used to be ‘Roti, Kapda and Makaan’, – food, clothing and a home. We remember Hindi movies made around this theme of ‘Roti, Kapda and Makaan’. From there, and in some sense, of course, probably Roti and Kapda are two issues we have been able to address, albeit not in an organised fashion, otherwise, we would not have the kind of malnutrition, the kind of challenges that we are facing in tribal areas in the aspirational districts of the country.
But housing 70 years after independence still is a challenge. I would dare say we still haven’t been able to meet the aspiration of all our people to own their home, or at least have a reasonable good quality of home. From ‘Roti, Kapda, Makaan’, the country moved to Bijli, Sadak, Pani – good roads, electricity, basic amenity for any country to move forward, to progress, to develop. And water, an issue which I believe the Ananta Centre has really focused on over many years – water, efficient utilization of water, conservation of water. They seek good quality drinking water.
And look at the dichotomy, we have a country still living in the 70s slogan where the home is still not sorted out. We have a country aspiring for good roads, electricity in their home, clean drinking water, and at the same time we have another third imperative, which I believe is the challenge before all of us today is the imperative of engaging with, probably internet, engaging with the modern technological evolutions – Robotics, Internet of Things, new ways of 3D manufacturing or artificial intelligence.
So we are living in three worlds simultaneously, addressing challenges before the country in each one of the three worlds, trying to meet the aspirations of a billion people, many of whom for three generations, if not more, have been deprived even a basic sustenance living.
While we can say that we are better off than many other parts of the world, personally, I don’t see any satisfaction in that. It does not give me any joy to compare myself with somebody who is worse off. I would rather benchmark to the best in the world. And, therefore, when this government looked at growth, looked at what needs to be done to address these challenges, we looked at all the three segments, addressing the issue of housing, which is a priority issue before the country, ensuring connectivity across the country. And, connectivity would not only mean better lives, better lifestyles, it would mean more business, growth, engagement with the world for our exports. And, connectivity would obviously mean connectivity of roads, railways, airlines, seaways, airways.
We worked through the last four years to ensure we can strengthen our power sector, and every element of the value chain of the power sector, addressing things not as they came, addressing things not in …. to address what is the immediate problem at hand, but addressing it in a systematic manner from the base, prioritizing what needs to be done. Unless we have fuel we can’t run our power plants, unless we generate enough power we won’t have anything to transmit. But have we got a good enough sustainable grid, so sort out the grid issues, create transmission infrastructure.
Doing all of that, ensure that we also keep the environmental balance, address concerns of climate change, focus on renewables, then the mesh between renewables and traditional forms of power so that our transmission system can actually take on increased renewable energy generation. And when all of this is done, if we are going to have a weak distribution system, in any case you can’t reach the power to the last mile.
But we didn’t shirk away from the responsibility. We didn’t give out an excuse why this cannot be done. While many of you may have heard even me talking many times about the legacy that we inherited, a legacy where we had almost 300 million plus people without electricity. I literally was welcomed into the Power Ministry on 27th May, 2014 with a thunderstorm that happened on 29th or 30th May and I think my good friend Vinayak Chatterjee had called it ‘baptism by outage’. But he addressed each of those various elements of the value chain.
And I am just giving this as an example of the thinking of this government. We focused to increase coal production and we have seen nearly a 100 million tonnes more coal production in the last 4 years, which has brought down imports, brought down our reliance on very expensive coal – currently commodity prices are very high. We ensured that all the generating capacity which is efficient is encouraged to produce more and various steps were taken. We allowed people to exchange, rationalize coal linkages, to use coal linkages in the most efficient manner, instead of a plant-by-plant allocation of coal and various other steps. So, the generation capacity was never a challenge.
The ambitious renewable energy programme where we were looking at taking our solar energy alone from 2.5 GW to a 100 GW in 7 years is now evident. You see the huge strides we have made almost increased it by 5 or 6 times in the first three years itself – actually more than 6 times, by now it’s about 8 times from what it was in 2014. Simultaneously, bringing down the prices of renewables through efficiency, through economies of scale and through honest transparent bidding and auctions to the extent that today renewable energy is cheaper, costs less than thermal coal based power plants or power generated or polluting power.
We ensured that the national transmission grid is strengthened and we have one nation today with one grid, where we can seamlessly move power wherever it needs to meet the growing needs of this country, or address any problems like we had last year where hydro generation fell, three plants in coastal Gujarat got affected because of a Supreme Court order.
But despite that, the country could face the power needs across India. And then we realise that the last mile connectivity is ultimately going to happen through the DISCOMs. We brought in UDAY, the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana, often criticized by some of the naysayers. But I was just reading this morning, we have actually been able to bring down the losses of our distribution companies from roughly 11 or 12 billion dollars annually to about 2.5 billion dollars last year.
I think a fair measure of success in a short period of – I think the first states came on board end of ’15 and most states came on board in ‘16-17, so we are still about 15 to 24 months into that programme. But it has rejuvenated the entire distribution sector to the extent that you would find that in the five years of this government we will ensure that not a single willing consumer in the entire country who aspires or who desires to have a electricity connection will be deprived of that – the Saubhagya Yojana that we have launched – 100% household electrification in five years, something which the world has planned to do by 2030 in the Sustainable Development Goals. India would have the distinct privilege of achieving it 12 years ahead of schedule, by end of 2018 and maybe a little spill over a month or two.
Many times we set very ambitious targets. And in a recent press engagement I was pointing out to some friends from the media that sadly, we are always looking to pick the small holes. We are not looking at the big picture. So, you will be very interested to go and put the mike in front of somebody’s home and find five homes who have not got electricity without even checking whether they applied, they were refused, why they don’t have electricity, are there unpaid bills? But you look at five people who can speak on camera and say, ‘but I don’t have electricity, so Mr Modi has lied. The country doesn’t have electricity in every home.’
They will lose the big picture that 300 million people who didn’t have electricity until 5 years ago would by and large all have got electricity – no, but there are five families which don’t have electricity and you can actually run a whole 30-minute show on that and get more TRPs than the Growth Net Summit will get.
But I think it’s been a journey where we are engaging with the world. We are getting the best of ideas of the world to come and work in India, but calibrating it to the Indian context, we are not cloning it blindly or cloning it irresponsibly, trying to really drive growth with a mindset of honesty, with a mindset where bringing in transparency has as much importance as the other outcomes or physical outcomes.
And in some sense, if I can summarize before I conclude, there are three basic elements on which this government has focused. One is, of course, stability, as I mentioned earlier – political stability, social stability, macro-economic stability. Of course, there will be challenges. There will be issues happening at different places. There will be incidents about which we are extremely concerned and we wish and desire that there should not be a single incident that impacts the social fabric of the country.
But the choice before us is do we become naysayers, do we become demoralized, dejected on one or two or more instances or we look at the 1.2 billion people as our focus and what impact we can have on the lives of everybody, how we can take the entire country along and bring about change in the lives of the people. What we can do for the economy, how can we ensure that from a situation in 2014, the growth had come down to under 5% where fiscal deficits were high, inflation was in many years at double digits, interest rates were high, current account deficit was breaching all reasonable norms.
Can we change the needle, move the needle from there? And, yes, we today have $413 billion of foreign exchange reserves giving us strength to manage the economy well; fiscal deficit this year will be down to 3.3%. And I can assure you ladies and gentlemen, we are monitoring and working to ensure that fiscal deficit will be maintained at 3.3%, despite this being an election here, despite this being a year where traditionally – and I would urge you to look at history – be it 2013-14, be it 2007-08, 2008-09 period, where fiscal deficits, macroeconomic stability, good governance, all were thrown to the wind for political exigencies.
You have a government today which is willing to say we will meet the aspirations of the people of India. We will meet our objectives of good governance. We will meet our objectives for society to reach the benefits of growth to the poorest of the poor. But we will also strengthen the Indian economy. We will ensure that we don’t bring in structural weaknesses which in our next term – and I am not being presumptuous. Every politician has to aspire for his next term.
And we are confident that the people of India will support good governance, and we will relentlessly pursue this path, because we believe that’s good for the country. We believe that’s good for the nation, for the people of India.
Of course, when you are building such a superstructure or a framework of good governance which will hold the country in good stead for many years, you have to consistently reform, your performance has to be monitored, you have to hold people accountable, you have to measure the outcomes. And we have ensured that our focus again through a root cause analysis, ensuring that we are taking care of the building blocks of the country and the social-political economy, are taken care of. We ensure that that is in a very orderly manner, in a systematic manner.
And while we don’t make a big song and dance, we don’t call the work that we have done as big bang reforms, but you look at the amount of things that have happened under Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Mr Arun Jaitley’s charge. How many of us in this room had ever imagined to bring about 29 States and Union Territories altogether on one page to introduce GST? Albeit with a few teething troubles, but a game-changing reform of this dimension in a country as large as diverse as India being done with unanimous approval. Every political ideology coming on board, decisions taken over several meetings, more than 20 meetings, deciding procedures, deciding rates, deciding the entire legal framework, subsuming 40 taxes and cesses, and doing it seamlessly, doing it smoothly.
It’s a continuous evolving and learning process. We keep simplifying it. We keep addressing concerns of specific sectors. We keep ensuring that we can keep lowering the rates whenever we get an opportunity while keeping the revenues intact. RERA – to bring about an orderly growth in the real estate sector. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, so that finally, borrowers become responsible to repay loans to the banks, rather than the other way round where banks are now stuck having given a loan to a borrower, it’s the bank’s responsibility to recover that money.
Agricultural sector reforms – the eNAM, about which we discussed yesterday, a marketplace where the whole country becomes one, something which all of us have deliberated and debated for years to smoothen the impact of or the vagaries of nature or the impact of different sowing patterns or different output of agriculture across the country. Ensuring fertilizer and basic seeds and credit is never a problem for our farmers who provide us food security.
Bringing in transparency and institutionalizing allocation of government resources, where I cannot favour anybody now. No governments in the future, hopefully, will be able to favour anybody given the strong framework we have created for giving out the natural resources of this country, which is our national wealth. Supporting human capital, giving pride to our workmen through a 42% increase in minimum wages across sectors at one time – something which had never happened for so many years. There used to be piecemeal and very nominal increases, doubling the gratuity that our employees can get, putting in 30-40 years of service, should they not get a respectable severance or retirement benefit?
Returning provident fund money paid by people, by contract labours over many years, but with no traceability of the person, just lying in the accounts, not only have we tried to bring in a universal number, but also ensured that the money that was collected over many years, let’s try and locate those people and give it back to those poor people whose money it rightfully was.
The JAM – Jan Dhan, Aadhar, Mobile Phone trinity that we are promoting to ensure financial inclusion, every person in this country has a right for financial engagement with the banking sector, an identity by which we can ensure leakages in the system can be controlled.
Direct Benefit Transfer – many of you will recall there was a former Prime Minister who had literally given up and said that if I give one dollar or a 100 rupees from Delhi, from the central government’s kitty for social welfare, barely 15% reaches the common man, the true beneficiary. We have brought 481 schemes of the government of India under the Direct Benefit Transfer, transferred nearly $60 billion – Rs 3,65,000 crores – directly into the bank account of the beneficiaries.
If I would extrapolate that from the old thinking, if a Rs 100 was to really effectively reach to the extent of Rs 15, then I think this $60 billion is effectively a transfer of probably $400 billion to the common man. It would need $400 billion of money leaving the government kitty so that $60 billion could reach effectively to the beneficiaries.
I mean that’s the kind of change in the country that I believe Prime Minister Modi’s leadership has successfully brought in. We have taken some strong decisions. It has been a decisive government. We have had some strong performance across different sectors. It’s been a government that has focused on bringing about a change, impacting the lives, not of a particular section of society, not just looking for good credit ratings from a section of society or good editorials written about what impacts only a miniscule population in this country. But it has been a government which has worked to impact each and every one of the 1.2 billion Indians across the length and breadth of the country.
I believe we are working for the country’s prestige. We are looking to make this country a country where every individual’s basic aspirations are met. And I believe the ambition of this government that by 15th August, 2022, when India turns 75 – 75 years of independence – our desire is to see every citizen of this country having a home of his own, a home in which there is a good toilet, there is 24/7 electricity, there is clean drinking water, a good road leading up to his village, to his home, quality healthcare, quality education for his children.
And to achieve that goal, we believe that the changed mindset of the nation today coupled with greater engagement with technology, coupled with greater engagement with the best practices and ideas that we can get from around the world, India today is poised to actually and significantly impact our brothers and sisters, rich or poor, living in remote parts of India, in the villages of India and in the cities of India, equally bringing about a difference to the lives of our brothers and sisters.
Thank you very much.
Thank you honourable Minister. That was really a very-very comprehensive address about the various achievements of the government. I won’t keep you away for too long. I have two very eminent panellists here – Jamshed Bhai and Mr Klod. So would you like to make some intervention or ask some questions to the honourable Minster?
Q: Mr Goyal, you have very ably laid out how this government has made a very large difference in both domestic economic situation and from a global prospective, I think one of the problems that we are likely to face now as we go forward is the much higher oil prices. I think the country had the benefit of lower oil prices in these last 3-4 years and that is going to be somewhat of a challenge.
And since you are also holding the Finance portfolio currently, do you believe that this is something that is surmountable with some difficulty or, for instance, I believe that in a way we have to pass on. We believe in a market that we have to pass on costs as we incur them, so how you expect that to sort of roll out over time? I think the related question to that is that the petroleum products and certain other items were kept out of GST and whether this is something an appropriate time to consider that we should include these items in GST. I will come back later on with some more questions after Klod.
A: Well, I think at the outset you will appreciate that as a responsible government, we are monitoring these issues all the time – the prices of petroleum products, changes in different situations around the world, what’s happening with the US Fed, what’s happening in the US economy or the European economy, what’s happening with Russia, with Iran, Saudi Arabia, that’s the job of government.
And I can assure you; this government is completely on top of things. This government is monitoring the situation on a real-time basis and it is with the responsible knowledge of what is happening in the world, how prices have moved up that I made this statement that I am very confident that this government will ensure stability of the economy and achieving all the targets that we have set before ourselves, including the fiscal deficit at 3.3%.
As regards petroleum products, may I take this opportunity to highlight one very important fact that somewhere seems to have got lost in the debate around petroleum prices.
You will all remember that diesel was still a regulated price until before this government came in. So there was an artificial price of diesel kept low which is now often used to berate the current diesel price. So let me clarify that this government brought in a system by which all prices became market-driven, and therefore, we righted a wrong of many years. And, what had we inherited apart from that?
We had inherited nearly $20 billion – 1,30,000 crores of oil bonds, unpaid bills of the oil companies over 2009 to 2014 period. We inherited large amounts of subsidies which were not paid up, for kerosene, for LPG, for fertilizer, for food security. We inherited central sales tax reimbursement to the states, which were not done for several years.
And I can read out a plethora of unpaid bills, as we would call it in the corporate world, which came to our government’s kitty. We didn’t cry about that. We didn’t refuse to honour the commitments of the government. We believe in a continuing responsibility of government. We didn’t come out with white papers to tell the world that look, oh, we are gone, we are finished, we have got $50 billion of liability on our head for which we are not responsible.
We didn’t cry for the fact that the stress in the banking system is nearly $200 billion inherited from 2014 and before that, but shoved under the carpet, hidden under restructuring, knowing full well that that money or most of it was already lost and was never going to come back to the banking system.
We started addressing all these issues. We pay the interest. We paid 40,000 crores only as interest on these oil bonds, that’s about $6 billion gone. We repaid some 30-odd thousand crores, $5 billion of these old oil bonds. All our subsidy payments we brought on up to date, on par. We provide for all the subsidies as they come, not push it to the future.
Responsible business management of the economy is what this government has brought to India after many-many-many years. And I think if at all anybody has the impression that the government got some windfall out of this lower prices, let me clarify to the august gathering here, the increased excise duty that the government would have got over 4 years, if you remove what was originally there and what would have been a trendline of growth in the normal course would not be more than some $30 billion or maybe at best $35 billion. A lot of the money goes back to the states. So when the collection of excise happens, a lot of that goes back to the states.
So we have used this money efficiently to, or this lower price, efficiently to clear the unpaid bills of the previous government and we have used it to good effect to invest in the railways, to invest in the road sector. After all, this huge massive highway programme that you see all across the country, billions of dollars being spent on the programmes to connect India through roadways, through airways, through railways. That’s where we put in every single rupee that was collected, apart from paying the old bill.
So I think this government has been very responsible both in the management of the economy and in management of prices and yet brought good governance, good policies to the table. To my mind, we have factored in what would be the increased oil price, some of it was factored before the budget, some of it we have now replanned, and looked at alternate sources of resources, so that without a cut in expenditure we will be able to manage the fiscal deficit.
Q: You want to see whether GST…
A: Well, that’s really a decision that the GST Council has to take, because end of the day, I am not or the government is not alone in that and we have maintained the dignity of the GST Council to have unanimous decisions taken. And the good part is that the federal structure, even though it has different political ideologies running different states, they have all worked together to ensure the success of GST. Maybe at the next meeting there could be a discussion on this, I believe in the past they have discussed this issue. Since a consensus did not come up, it has not yet come under the GST. But by and large, what the states get and what the centre gets is even now almost equal out of the taxes on petroleum products.
Q: Mr Minister, I was very interested and impressed by your description of the achievements of this government and I think there is no underestimating these achievements. They are for instance reflected in the fact that in the last ranking of the World Bank about the Ease of Doing Business, India has gained 30 places. However, I was thinking listening to you about what Sheikh Mohammed in Dubai keeps saying to almost his visitors or his advisors, and at some stage, I was one of these advisors.
And Sheikh Mohammed used to say, it doesn’t matter whether gazelle is running fast, the key question is can the gazelle run faster than the lion. And my point in saying that is that it is clear that India is achieving about 7.3% growth, compared to 6.7 last year. But what is interesting for me is that you are talking about double digit growth and to achieve double digit growth there are quite a few requirements. I will not mention all of them, but I would like to identify three of them. And I would like to know how you look at improving these three requirements. First of all, it means accelerating …. from commodity based production to higher value production, and of course, this is what the government is trying to do with Make in India initiative. But I think the question is how do you move faster on that road?
The second question is digitization of the economy, and it has to be accelerated quite strongly if you want to achieve double digit growth. The government again has a number of initiatives like Digital India, and we know about that but the key question is again, and many people in this room are I guess, like me as an old friend of India, impatient men. They want to see faster things happening, and so the question is how do you accelerate digitization? How do you accelerate moving to a higher value growth? For instance, in a way, accelerating the growth of growth-driver sectors like IT, pharma, biotech, auto components, smart phones, etc.
And the third point, again I would limit myself to 3 points is with respect to what is happening with, and you mentioned it, connectivity, infrastructure. And I would take infrastructure in a larger sense of the term because it is connectivity, material and digital, but it is also as you mentioned it – utilities. India needs a quantum leap in terms of the development of utilities. And in that respect if I look at what is being done today in countries like Indonesia, the Philippines where they have been quite successful in bringing much more private sector involvement in the development of utilities. And we know that utilities have developed a multiplier impact. So my question is what are you planning to do so that we move from 7.3-7.5 which is good, but quite frankly, is not good enough, because when you look at other countries the way they are moving, India needs to go faster. So I would love to hear your views about these ways of sustaining higher growth?
A: Undoubtedly, I cannot but endorse what you have said sir. In fact, I think even on an earlier occasion at the Oberoi at an Ananta event I had talked of double digit growth, probably a year or year and a half ago. But we also recognize that there has to be a capacity in the economy to be able to absorb that double digit growth and to be able to implement that double digit growth.
And for implementing that double digit growth, you need certain imperatives to be in place, which is what this government has focused on. Unless there is a framework of good governance, where there is transparency and honesty, you are not going to be able to get large amounts of capital to come into the country, because they will be perpetually scared.
You will not come into a country where you don’t know that you may get a license for spectrum which will get cancelled after four years. You will not invest in a power plant in a company where you are worried that 5 years-7 years down the road, the coal block, which was the basis of your generating power, it is going to be taken away from you. And you are left with a $2 billion/$3 billion investment but no fuel.
What we have focused on is a series of programmes. I often refer to them as beads in a necklace, all interconnected, to ensure that we are preparing India to absorb this double digit growth. And it’s not as if India would be the first country to do that. I mean look at China, and China has significant advantages of not having to grapple with a democratic system.
While we are very-very proud and we will obviously always desire and wish that we work in this environment, even if it means slower growth, but China had no accountability. But still they spent five years from 1979 to 1984 in building the basic blocks, on the back of which from 1984 to 2014, and pardon me if I am making a mistake Rakesh, but I think in that 30-year period they were able to almost have 2 out of 3 years with double digit growth.
I am hoping those figures are correct, but end of the day, it does seem to be correct from what we can see. But with the opaque nature of the economy, we really don’t know what is the status of their banking system, what is the status of their stress in the banking system, all of that we don’t know. But we focused on Digital India, but can we have Digital India without electricity going to the remotest corners of the country, can we have Digital India without optic fibre or Wi-Fi reaching the length and breadth of the country.
And we believed in doing things on scale, so we said first, as I said in my opening remarks, set the whole power sector right. Simultaneously, take electricity first to the villages, after you have taken it to the villages, take it to the sub-villages – in India they are called majlas,tolas, dhanis, this is not the main village, but remote houses in the vicinity of a village. Take the connection to those places.
And now we have embarked last year on taking it to every home, unless you have electricity, Digital India is going remain the privilege of this room and the people of one section of society. Similarly, when we came into government, the optic fibre laid in the country was 358 kilometres, today it is 300,000 kilometres. What, it’s a scale of how many times, 800 times? 700 times?
700 times in 4 years! But unless we reach that to the remotest corners, we are not going to be able to make Digital India a growth driver, or a technology reaching to the remote corners to help people learn and engage and understand technology.
So, I think this connectivity, and particularly, utilities point that you said is very correct. It has been the focus of this government. Private sector involvement is an issue you raised. In the period 2007-08 to about 2012-13, India expanded capacities on the back of very-very indiscriminate lending by banks to people who never in the first place had the equity to support that kind of lending. And capacities were created in different sectors which were far beyond India’s demand, India’s requirement.
And until recently, when we are seeing capacities getting used up, we actually had a huge capacity unutilized or a overhang of surplus capacity. Obviously, no sensible private sector investor is going to put in more money unless the old capacities get fully used up.
So, sectors where there was a demand – take mobile phone manufacturing, there were two factories making them in India in 2014, there are 120 today. There was a demand. There was no capacity to make them in India. Now people make them. Initially, obviously they will assemble them, then they look at sourcing the products from India, and finally, hopefully, they have a fab set up to make the chip technology.
So it has to be a phased transition. Effort was made about 10 years ago to start with the fab, but it failed. It fell on our face. I think a fab was set up in Chandigarh or somewhere? It just went bust, because it was never planned what that fab will really supply, there was no market for it. So, I think we have looked at it where we have allowed the private sector to take their own decisions. We have ensured that indiscriminate lending and money is not available unless there is a viable, robust plan, which can sustain that model.
Q: If I may just follow up a quick question. Could you give us a kind of date or estimate where in your view India will reach the inflexion point to double digit growth? Will it be 5 years from now, 3 years from now, 7 years from now? What is your bet? What is your plan? What is your hope?
A: My personal vision and I can actually see before my eyes that we can actually see it happening by the fourth quarter of this year.
Q: Double digit?
A: Yes. It is not impossible. There is a demand uptake in the economy. There is a mood in the nation and an aspirational billion is a fantastic marketplace to have. And I think the efforts that this government is doing for making it easier to do business, albeit with a caveat, if I may correct myself, to make it easier to do honest business. And when this country becomes a nation of honest business, I think 10 per cent plus growth is a given for India.
Q: Friends, on this very optimistic note, I am sorry we won’t be able to take questions from the audience because we have the next set of speakers just waiting. So, thank you Piyushji. Thank you very much for you very encouraging address, compliments to you and your government for all the initiatives you have taken. And we will look forward to that 10% growth shortly. Thank you very much.
June 18, 2018 Speaking at press conference in New Delhi