Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government’s goal is to build an “inclusive, global-standard system” where everyone sees value in investing in India and expanding their operations in the country.
“We envision a system where anyone from around the world feels at home in India, where our processes and standards are familiar and welcoming,” Modi said in an interview with the London-based Financial Times (FT) that included both in-person and written responses.
Modi rejected the criticism that there are issues such as corruption, administrative hurdles, and skill gaps among youth that stop India from replicating China’s manufacturing-led economic growth.
“It’s important to recognize that India wouldn’t have achieved the status of the world’s fastest-growing economy if the issues you’ve highlighted were as pervasive as suggested,” he said, adding that these concerns stem from perceptions.
India has been the world’s fastest-growing major economy in the past two years and is estimated to retain the status this year. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated India’s economic growth forecast for fiscal years 2023 and 2024 to be at 6.3%.
China’s economy, on the other hand, is estimated to grow at 5% in 2023 and 4.2% in 2024, according to the IMF’s October World Economic Outlook report.
There are, however, fears of the GDP growth not being reflected in employment generation in India. The government led by Modi cites its Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) data to reject criticisms of jobless growth.
The data released by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation in October showed the overall labor force participation rate rose from 49.8% in 2017-18 to 57.9% in 2022-23. The government says that the unemployment rate for 2022-23 stood at 3.2%.
However, a recent survey by think tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) showed that India’s unemployment rate rose to a two-year high of 10.09% in October.
In the interview with the Financial Times, Modi stressed that there is a consistent decline in unemployment rates, and employment generation in India has accelerated in recent years.
“When evaluating different performance parameters like productivity and infrastructure expansion, it becomes evident that employment generation in India, a vast and youthful nation, has indeed accelerated,” he said.
Speaking on foreign policy, Modi said his government’s guiding principle in foreign affairs is national interest.
“This stance allows us to engage with various nations in a manner that respects mutual interests and acknowledges the complexities of contemporary geopolitics,” he added.
On India-US relations, Modi said they are on the “upward trajectory” and have not been impacted by the recent controversy regarding New Delhi’s alleged involvement in attempting to assassinate a Khalisnai activist on US soil.
“Today, the India-US relationship is broader in engagement, deeper in understanding, warmer in friendship than ever before,” Modi, who visited Washington in June this year for the sixth time as prime minister.
On the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict, Modi said he was in touch with the leaders in the region. “If there is anything India can do to take forward efforts towards peace, we will certainly do so,” he said.
The prime minister expressed confidence that his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would return to power in the general elections due to its record “of solid change in the common man’s life”.
“Today, the people of India have very different aspirations from the ones they had 10 years ago,” Modi said in the interview.
“They realize that our nation is on the cusp of a take-off. They want this flight to be expedited, and they know the best party to ensure this is the one which brought them this far,” he added.
India will go to polls early next year as the term of the current government ends in May. The BJP is buoyed by the recent wins in the legislative elections held in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh.
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