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'Too Much of Democracy' Making it Difficult to Carry Out Reforms in India, Says Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant

File photo of Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant. (PTI)

File photo of Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant. (PTI)

Addressing a virtual event organised by ‘Swarajya’ magazine, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said the agriculture sector needs reforms. MSPs and ‘mandis’ will continue to exist, he said amid the farmers’ protest.

It is difficult to carry out tough reforms in India as there is “too much of democracy”, news agency Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant as saying on Tuesday, prompting the latter to claim that he had been misquoted.

According to the PTI report, Kant at a virtual event organised by Swarajya magazine, said that 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 reportedly said. “It is not easy to compete against China without hard reforms.”

"This government has demonstrated political will to carry out hard reforms," PTI quoted him as saying. The report added that 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.”

However, Kant later tweeted to say that he had been misquoted. “I was speaking about MEIS scheme & resources being spread thin & need for creating global champions in manufacturing sector,” he said.

Earlier, at the virtual event, 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 (PLI) scheme and these sectors will play a major role in making India a manufacturing hub, and give the country economies of scale, Kant said.

"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 also important for the country to get into sunrise industries.

first published:December 08, 2020, 17:25 IST