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Updated: July 11, 2014 03:43 IST

A budget for the future after a vote for change

Jayant Sinha
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Jayant Sinha
Jayant Sinha

The BJP’s victory marked a clear break from the socialist Nehruvian worldview and provides an unparalleled opportunity to develop India into a fast-growing, productive 21st Century economy.

To that end, we must collectively work toward meeting six major objectives for the Indian economy.

Achieving stability

India should not be vulnerable to an economic crisis; instead it must be able to seize global opportunities. This means prudent fiscal management to bring down fiscal deficit to 3 per cent of GDP by 2019. Inflation has to be managed at 4-6 per cent so that we protect the poorest of the poor and keep our currency stable. And that means keeping our current account deficits within modest limits, or even achieving surpluses to reduce our vulnerability to the external environment.

Rapid growth is necessary to ensure prosperity for all Indians. We want to achieve a sustainable growth rate of 8-10 per cent per year so that every Indian can rapidly improve his/her standard of living.

Rapid growth requires a forward-looking, innovative economy that is driven by the private sector. We must make it easy to get businesses started. We must ensure that we have world-class innovation hubs that focus on India’s problems and challenges. We must ensure that our taxation system is efficient, attracts investment, and supports business growth.

Jobs for the one crore Indians entering the workforce every year is India’s top-most priority. Jobs are the best social security system since they provide dignity and human development. To achieve this we have to rapidly improve the infrastructure, manufacturing, construction, and tourism sectors. These sectors also enable a more competitive manufacturing sector, better balance of payments, and robust exchange rate.

Infrastructure — power, roads, telecommunications, and airports — is the essential foundation for economic growth and job creation. Much of this will have to be built through innovative PPP schemes and pre-packaged projects for foreign investors. Moreover, in the next few decades the majority of Indians will for the first time in our country’s history live in cities. We need to create city-systems that are centres of creativity and innovation.

We need to equip our people with good health and skills so that they can build better lives for themselves and their families. This requires a robust and efficient safety net that actually delivers benefits to targeted beneficiaries, excellent school systems, vocational training, apprentice programmes, and certification to prepare young people for good jobs. In addition, world-class universities, which will serve as research and innovation hubs are required. .

A fast-growing India requires sufficient energy supplies to power its progress. We face major problems in electricity supply, oil and gas development, and in accelerating our renewable energy sources. India is overly reliant on volatile regions for its energy supplies. Moreover, global climate change mitigation will severely strain our energy and water sources.

Agricultural productivity

Finally, raising agricultural productivity is vital.We must grow more foods and vegetables, provide more protein-rich foods such as milk and eggs, and adjust to changing consumption habits. Meanwhile, water supplies are diminishing, the monsoon is becoming erratic, and many areas have already been damaged with excessive use of fertilizers. Our government is fashioning innovative ways to deal with these issues.

The path ahead will not be easy. We have inherited a stagflationary economy with severely entrenched structural problems such as sticky inflation, deficient infrastructure spending, and insufficient spending on defence. The external environment is unpredictable and volatile. However, Indians are resilient and entrepreneurial. They have voted for change and are determined to create a better future for themselves. We must provide them the resources and the opportunities.

(Jayant Sinha is a BJP MP from Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. These are his personal views.)

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