Amitabh Kant Says ‘Too Much Democracy’ In India Making Tough Reforms Very Difficult 
Amitabh Kant, chief executive officer of NITI Aayog, speaks during a panel discussion at the Bloomberg India Economic Forum in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  

Amitabh Kant Says ‘Too Much Democracy’ In India Making Tough Reforms Very Difficult 

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NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant on Tuesday said it is difficult to carry out tough reforms in India to make the country economically competitive as there is “too much of democracy”.

Addressing a virtual event organised by Swarajya magazine, Kant said for the first time, the Centre has carried out hard reforms across sectors, including mining, coal, labour, agriculture, and the next wave of reforms must be pushed by the states.

“Tough reforms are very difficult in the Indian context, we have too much of democracy. You needed political will to carry out these reforms (mining, coal, labour, agriculture) and many more reforms still need to be done,” he said.

It is not easy to compete against China without hard reforms, Kant said. “This government has demonstrated the political will to carry out hard reforms.”

The NITI Aayog CEO stressed that the next wave of reforms must come from states.

“If 10-12 states will grow at higher rates, then there is no reason why Indian won’t grow at higher rates. We have asked union territories to privatise discoms. Discoms must become far more competitive and provide cheap power,” he said.

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Replying to a question on protests by farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, against the Centre’s new farm laws, Kant said the agriculture sector needs reforms.

“It is very important to understand this that MSPs (minimum support price) will be there, mandis will remain. Farmers must have a choice to sell their products as they benefit out of this,” he noted.

On sourcing of raw material for manufacturing electric batteries in India, Kant pointed out that lithium (which is used for manufacturing batteries) is available in large quantities across the world, including Australia.

“We don’t anticipate any shortage of lithium,” he said.

On Modi government’s ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative, he said it is not about looking inwards, but unleashing the potential of Indian companies.

The government has identified 10 champion sectors for production-linked incentives scheme and these sectors will play a major role in making India a manufacturing hub, and give the country economies of scale, Kant said.

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“The PLI scheme is going to provide a huge opportunity to these sectors for 4-5 years to export,” he added.

Noting that India must technologically leapfrog, Kant said it is important for the country to get into sunrise industries.

Kant also noted that there is a need to bring down logistics costs.

The country must also embark on sustained and well-planned urbanisation which is the next big driver of growth, he said.

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Kant pointed out that the government support so far was across 90% of product lines and to 86% of exporters, and yet India's exports were not growing.

“We need to create an ecosystem to enable private enterprises to thrive at the global platform,” he said.

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