Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has said that investment in infrastructure will drive growth. Urban infrastructure needs big uplift, he said. He was addressing a session on ‘greater opportunities’ at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations here on Tuesday.

The rate of urbanisation was on the rise and several large airports with modern amenities had been set up, he said. Kochi Metro rail project was approved with a view to facilitating growth, he added.

Mr. Ahluwalia said that though global exports might go up, India’s growth rate would not be dependent on exports.

Open economy

India would remain an open economy and the economy would witness much better performance in the next two-three years. Larger current account deficit had been a major concern, but it could come down from 4.2 per cent to 2.2 per cent by the end of the 12th Plan. As a growing economy, India would generate more returns to the foreign investor, he said.

Addressing the session, Anand Sharma, Minister of Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs, said there was a lot of positivity in the economy. Integrated greenfield townships would be set up at over a dozen locations. The projects would offer investment opportunity while improving the overall infrastructure in the country. About 100 million jobs would come from the manufacturing sector within a decade.

Pointing out that the fundamentals of the Indian economy remained strong, he said that the government was taking conscious decisions to keep deficits within manageable limits. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail was permitted, with the option given to States to implement it. Being a rule-based democracy, violations are curbed and accountability is fixed. “We have an unsparing media, but highly competitive,” he said.

Kamal Nath, Minister of Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs, said there were 63 cities in India having over a million people. Even Europe did not have so many cities with that sort of population, he pointed out. With the highest population of youngsters, India was the largest ``aspirational’ society in the world. There were huge challenges on the infrastructure front, but the country had got the inherent strengths to overcome them, he said.

Naina Lal Kidwai, President of FICCI, in her address, said the surge in stock markets was an indication of the positive mood in the economy. India could become the preferred destination for investment, she said.