Narendra Modi aims to double size of Indian economy by 2025

Narendra Modi struck a bullish note with his opening address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, as he set a target for the Indian economy to double in size over the next seven years.

Most political leaders who appear at the elite gathering in Switzerland act as salesman-in-chief for their countries, and India’s prime minister did not disappoint.

Boasting to the assembled multinational executives and financiers that his country was “removing red tape and laying out the red carpet” for investors, Mr Modi claimed India would have a $5tn economy by 2025. “Investing in India, travelling to India, manufacturing in India has become much easier than before,” he said.

Data released by the International Monetary Fund in Davos suggest the Indian economy will grow by 7.4 per cent in 2018, which would put it roughly on track to meet Mr Modi’s target.

The Indian government recently loosened restrictions on foreign investment in some sectors of the economy, including real estate brokerage and retailing. But some of Mr Modi’s moves — notably the “demonitisation” that removed as much as one-third of India’s outstanding currency — caused significant disruption to business, blighting his claim to be an economic reformer.

As well as emphasising the new opportunities for investment in India, Mr Modi also struck a spiritual note: quoting Gandhi, denouncing “greed-based” consumerism and stressing the benefits of yoga.

He positioned himself and India as defenders of an open global order, warning against the rise of new forms of tariff and non-tariff barriers and the slowing in cross border flows of investment.

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He also said globalisation was “slowly losing its lustre” and that “the forces of protectionism are raising their heads against globalisation. They want to reverse its flow.”

The Indian prime minister’s defence of globalisation will be seen as a tacit rebuke to Donald Trump, the US president, and his “America first” agenda. Mr Trump will give the closing address to the WEF on Friday. In a similar vein, Mr Modi’s emphasis on the dangers of climate change makes a strong contrast with the scepticism expressed by the Trump administration.

The Indian prime minister listed climate change as the first of three main challenges facing the world, warning that “glaciers are melting, ice-caps are melting”. His call for international action to combat climate change is potentially significant because India has traditionally been among the last countries to sign up to global climate agreements.

The speech by Mr Modi also contained implicit rebukes to China. He stressed his country’s democratic culture, claimed India had no territorial ambitions and that it never sought to exploit the natural resources of other nations. This could be seen as a barb aimed at China, whose president, Xi Jinping, gave a well-received speech in Davos last year.

Mr Modi is the first Indian prime minister to speak at the WEF since 1997. Together with Mr Trump’s appearance later this week, his speech signals a resurgence in the importance of Davos as a global forum. Mr Trump’s speech will be the first by a US president in Davos since Bill Clinton appeared in 2000. President Emmanuel Macron of France will also make his first appearance in Davos, when he speaks later this week.

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Source:- Financial Express

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