Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden Independence Day speech at the Red Fort highlighted various priority issues ranging from the upliftment of the poor, women security, sanitation etc. The PM also spoke about financial inclusion and a push for manufacturing. From the economic perspective, there are three key takeaways.
First, the Planning Commission is on its way out. The PM has announced that a new institute, which is the National Development Reforms Commission will replace the Plan Panel very soon.
Second, as part of his financial inclusion plan, PM Modi has announced bank accounts for all under the Jan Dhan Yojna with a promised of life insurance of Rs 1 lakh to the poor.
Third, Modi also issued an invitation to world businessmen with his ‘Come, make in India’ slogan. He said he wants India’s manufacturing to reach a scale where India just exports and sees zero imports.
What should one make of the PM’s Independence Day speech, did it meet people’s expectations? Did he succeed in making his financial inclusion’s plan clear? FICCI President Siddharth Birla, State Bank of India MD A Krishna Kumar, Director of Research at Brookings India Subir Gokarn and India-Economist at Deutsche Bank Taimur Baig try to find an answer in a discussion on CNBC-Tv18.
Below is the transcript of Siddharth Birla, A Krishna Kumar, Dr Subir Gokarn and Taimur Baig’s interview with Sonia Shenoy on CNBC-TV18.
Sonia: There was a sense of déjà vu that you got with this speech, it seemed great on vision but it lacked a concrete roadmap as many experts have put it. Do you think it was a bit unrealistic in the first place to expect any concrete roadmap this time around or were you disappointed with this speech?
Birla: I thought this was one of the most amazing speeches I have heard in my career since I started working. Let us analyse the audience, he was speaking to the country, he was speaking through television channel, he was speaking to children, he was speaking to citizens. So to expect an economic roadmap that would satisfy either Dr Gokarn or Mr Kumar or myself would be completely out of place. I think you have to understand the spirit of the government as it comes behind this speech that if you are saying something you have some kind of action plan to put it in place. For example, when he said, ‘make in India’, make in India is not an invitation only to the globe to come and make in India, it is an invitation to anyone who wants to make in India including he wants the youngsters to go around and see that even in my small scale factory, can I make something that is being imported. He has set a standard of zero defect. He said when we export, can we make it a zero defect that is what would make us a manufacturing nation nothing otherwise. Then he has the infrastructure and other issues but first is the intent. So I think the vision was there and it is not just the vision, I think it was completely unfair to expect a roadmap and it is also unreal that he doesn’t have a roadmap in his mind as to how he is going to take this forward.