29 Oct 2020
India can still become a $5 trillion economy: PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is optimistic that India can still achieve the target of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2024, despite being badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
In an interview with The Economic Times, PM Modi said his government is known for achieving targets before the deadline, and the same trend will continue.
"Our country is optimistic of the future," he added.
"Optimistic people give ideas, pessimists evoke feeling of despair"
PM Modi said some people are pessimistic about the $5 trillion economy target.
"If you sit among them, you will hear only things of despair and despondency. However, if you discuss with optimistic people, you will hear ideas and suggestions on how to improve," he said.
He also cited the example of "corona warriors" who are working for 18-20 hours almost daily.
We will run faster next year, said PM Modi
"So what if we could not move at desired pace this year due to the pandemic! We will try and run faster in the next year to make up for the loss. Nothing great ever gets done if we get deterred by obstacles," he asserted.
A pandemic, lockdown, and a stimulus defined India's story
Tellingly, the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the Indian economy, much like the rest of the world.
India imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in March when the coronavirus tally was still in the hundreds.
With all sectors shut, job losses were evident. In May, PM Modi had announced the Aatmanirbhar Bharat package of Rs. 20 lakh crore, aimed at restarting the battered economy.
Not everyone was pleased with government's lockdown decision
The lockdown, meant to improve the country's health infrastructure, was slammed by the critics, and even by industrialists like Rajiv Bajaj.
Bajaj said that the country followed the West's model and ended up flattening the GDP curve.
However, the Centre stuck by its decision, claiming India was able to avoid thousands of deaths daily because of the stringent lockdown.
What he said
We focused on vulnerable, not just the corporate sector: PM
Taking the same tone in the interview, PM Modi said the battle against coronavirus pandemic was not only about saving lives, but also providing food to the poor.
He said even when experts wanted the government to announce a package for the corporate sector, the Centre focused on the vulnerable population.
PM Modi mentioned the "Garib Kalyan Yojana" to support his point.
"Deadlines have been met in the past as well"
When asked about the ambitious goal of $5 trillion economy, PM Modi said, "India is the third-largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity. We want India to become the third-largest in terms of current US dollar prices as well."
He reminded that his government fulfilled the rural sanitization promise and also met the 8 crore Ujjwala connections target.
PM Modi assessed India's performance on basis of lives saved
PM Modi was also questioned how he assesses India's battle with the virus.
Referring to the outbreak as unprecedented, he said, "I am no health expert but my assessment is based on numbers. I think we should assess our coronavirus fight against the metric of how many lives we are able to save."
But he stressed that guard can't be let down, just yet.
Last mile delivery, behavioral changes in Indians made PM content
When questioned about his biggest learning from the pandemic, he replied, "One positive learning in the past few months has been the significance of delivery mechanisms that reach the last mile." Most of the mechanisms, he said, were built during his government's first term.
He also seemed impressed by the behavioral changes, like wearing masks and social distancing, adapted by Indians quickly.