Jobs, growth and sustainability at the heart of Indian economy: Gadkari

LN Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on June 12, 2020 Published on June 12, 2020

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari   -  PTI

New innovations, decongestion of cities, and creation of sustainable jobs would be the way forward as India charts its way out of the pandemic. And none of these are impossible, said Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Minister of Road Transport.

Speaking at the launch of a study on ‘Jobs, Growth and Sustainability: A New Social Contract for India’s Recovery’ by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), Gadkari said, “While (our) huge population is our strength, it can also be a liability; our demographic dividend is our strength, for, the youth are very talented,” urging the participants to leverage on our strengths.

Conceding that it would take time for any new policy to gain wide acceptance, the minister said there were 115 aspirational districts that were educationally and economically backward. “The focus should be on the agricultural, rural and tribal populace in these districts.

“We have surplus rice and wheat for the next three years. It is a problem of plenty without adequate storage space. Further, there is a vast difference in the international price of agricultural commodities, the market price and the Minimum Support Price (MSP). The MSP is higher than the market / international price,” he said, adding “this is a political problem”.

“But we need to find a way out, an alternative to improve the economy,” he said, and hinted at commissioning a project report to address the crux of the issue.

Reverting to sugar, he said, “There are close to 200 dead sugar factories. We can use the facility in these units for converting to bio-ethanol. In a similar manner, by reducing the acreage under rice and wheat, we need not worry about paucity of storage space, but also look at crushing it to extract edible oil.”

“Not only should we look to change the crop pattern, but also find a way to increase the edible oil production in the country,” Gadkari said.

Reverting to new innovations, he said, “The sugar mills in Maharashtra were given special license to manufacture sanitisers in the early days of the pandemic outbreak. This not only helped bring down the cost of sanitisers but also slashed our import dependence. We need to make new innovations such as aviation fuel, converting waste to wealth, as in making bio-ethanol from municipal sewage water, and bring down our import dependence on oil.

“There is huge potential in agriculture and manufacturing sectors,” he said stressing the need to focus on the MSME sector.

Gadkari said, “The water problem is not a problem of the country. Linking of rivers should ease and make water available in plenty across the different regions in the country.”

Such initiatives would help decongest India’s cities, help in the promotion of industrial clusters, and add to growth. But for all this, we will need foreign direct investment (FDI).

“Funds are available, but we need to attract the flow. For this, we will need to upgrade technology, moot liberal policy, come up with time-bound technology and above all, make the system transparent and corruption-free,” inviting the participants to be part of this collaborative approach.

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Published on June 12, 2020
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