“This is India’s moment. We can go on to be the seventh-largest economy in the world. But the challenge is to grow at 8-9% per annum. For that, the private sector has to be the driver of growth. Investment rates have to rise, R&D has to go up,” he said while speaking at Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI)’s 10th Annual Forum 2023 in the capital.
Talking about how China’s economy is five times the size of India’s, Kant highlighted that it grew by 11% between 1990 and 2010. “Japan was at 10% growth for about two and a half decades, later it was Korea and Taiwan which had those rates. And in most recent times, it has been China. But while they made growth now at 4% and we at 6.5 or 7%, their size is so big. To catch up, we need to grow at 10%,” he stated.
Directing attention to how the government has been pushing the limits on infrastructure spending, Kant said these had gone up from 1.5% to 4%. “I have recently been travelling to Europe and the quality of our airports is far better. Our roads are much better than the European roads as well. Look at our national highways — they are top class. Our domestic airlines are far better than many international airlines. And with Vande Bharat, our trains will also be like that. We are building a completely new India in the coming decades,” he said, adding that India’s growth story will remain intact as long as the private sector continues to perform well.
Talking about the geopolitical turmoil and how every crisis is an opportunity, Kant said that the policy stance for a country at such times assumes greater significance. “I don’t think any country was ready for the Russia-Ukraine war. There will be crisis situations but the policy stance through this must be rational. It must be sensible. There must be predictability, consistency, optimism. So our opportunity at this time is really the fact that we have a large domestic market. This is also an opportunity for many states to unleash reforms. It is an opportunity to expand size and scale,” he said.
Even though international demand may come down for a while, certain other markets will show potential to boom. “It presents an opportunity to check your own house is in order. The policy stance system must be long term and with a clear view that India’s growth story has to remain intact. That’s critical,” he added.