Days after receiving flak for his “too much of a democracy” remark over farmers’ protest, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant sought to explain his stance, saying his speech was taken out of context and what he said and what has been ascribed to him are poles apart.
In an editorial published in the Indian Express on Friday, Kant wrote: “What I said and what has been ascribed to me are poles apart. My statement, with relevant portions, is that India is too much of a democracy to mirror a China model. How this has been misconstrued to mean we have “too much democracy” is both myopic and idiosyncratic. Mostly, it is a groundless twisting of a factual statement to make it palatable to partisan misinterpretation.”
Kant said he was “speaking about the multifaceted layers of negotiation and consensus building that were required to bring forth innovation in policies such as the Production Linked Incentive Scheme. Our objective has been to create global champions from India.”
According to a PTI report, Kant at a virtual event organised by Swarajya magazine on Tuesday, said it is difficult to carry out tough reforms in India as there is “too much of democracy”. He 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.
Responding 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.
In the Friday editorial, Kant pointed out that reforms require the buy-in of every stakeholder and therefore take longer than in the China model. “This is factual — it is not partisan, it is not anti-democratic, nor is it overtly critical. Also factual is that this government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown the intent and the drive to bring in structural reforms across sectors. Stating a fact does not make one partisan, and one should not be mischaracterised for doing so.”
He said he would prefer the focus to be on “the overall road to Atma Nirbhar” and “structural reforms like the PLI ‘require a very hard-headed, ground-level approach’, which is being attempted for the first time in India”.
India, he added, is at the cusp of major growth through these structural reforms. “We should be proud of these achievements. I, for one, most definitely am.”