Former vice-chairman NITI Aayog Panagariya talks ‘regaining India’s lost glory”


While the global coronavirus pandemic is still alive and actively spreading, many economies are beginning to work around it and get the best out of it. With vaccines rolling out slowly hopes too have been raising about bringing the economies back to normal.

India, especially has been doing everything it can to assure and empower its industries and workforce Many experts are optimistic about India’s recovery, however, they also claim that it could be a slow one.

In a virtual event organized by the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) on Saturday, January 23, Dr. Arvind Panagariya, Professor of Economics, Columbia University and former vice-chairman, NITI Aayog, said that the Indian economy can look at better post-COVID decade with a growth rate of 8% as the prospects look better with recovery on track.

In an insightful and thought-provoking talk and discussion, which was moderated by Dr. Thomas Abraham and Dr. Neerja Arun Gupta, the author of the latest book, “New India – Reclaiming the past Glory,” Dr. Panagariya shared with the attendees from across the world on ways India can “regain the lost glory”.

He pointed out how India went from accounting from 38% of the world’s economy before the British empire arrived to mere 3% after they left.

However, he also noted how the country has gathered strength and currently is on the right track to take back its place.

“With a GDP that just reached $2.6 trillion, India is poised to become the world’s third-largest economy in less than a decade,” Dr. Panagariya told the audience.

He added, “Now, India is well poised to regain the lost glory,” Panagariya said.

He credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government for making many critical decisions which has helped expand reforms and bring in more investments, Panagariya said.

From a mere 4% annual growth, India has been registering an average 8% growth in the past two decades, which is remarkable, he pointed out.

Acknowledging that “Currently, we have a gloom economy due to COVID,” Pangariya said, while stressing that “Fundamentals of the Indian economy have been robust, though unemployment has taken a huge toll on the growth with India’s growth in the first quarter of 2021 is expected to be negative 3 percent.”

“The faster we bring the spread of the virus under control, the faster the economy will return to its pre-COVID level,” he noted.

As for way forward, Panagariya suggested that India has to move from being a primarily agrarian economy to an industrial economy that relies more on technology and infrastructure.

In his new book, ‘New India: Reclaiming the Lost Glory’, he provides a roadmap for India’s future. He lists five ways the country can build its economy back.

  1. Externally, India needs to be more open. Modi govt has dome some changes. But on external trade, we need to be more open.
  2. Labor reforms have been “almost done” both at the federal and state levels. Currently, the right to terminate workers has been delegated to the states, and now only those companies with over 300 laborers can use the hire and fire policy.
  3. Land has largely remained untouched. Urban planning has remained static. Conversion of land from agriculture to industry is the need of the hour.
  4. India’s financial system needs to be fixed.
  5. Privatization of several government sectors needs to be implemented for more efficiency,

These steps and many others, “will have moved India one step closer to reclaiming its pre-industrial glory when it accounted for one-sixth of the global output and ranked second in economic size. This rapid movement in the absolute size of the economy will be insufficient, however, to bring prosperity to India’s vast population.”

Having a great authority on the Indian economy, Panagariya says that India needs policies conducive to the growth of firms from small to medium, medium to large, and large to larger still. Such policies include greater outward orientation; more flexible land, labor, and capital markets; concerted effort to improve the quality of higher education; faster urbanization; and improved governance at all levels.

“India will bounce back, in the next 12 months. India needs to be more open, and the government needs to reverse the restrictions/protection. Privatization needs to go beyond some select sectors that have been given OK,” he said.

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