New Delhi, Dec 8 – Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented an optimistic outlook for the Indian economy, emphasizing its resilience and strong performance on the global stage. Speaking during a short discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the country’s economic situation, Sitharaman stated that India remains the fastest-growing economy in the world, with a growth rate of 7.6% in the second quarter of FY24.
Highlighting India’s economic achievements, Sitharaman compared the performance with other major economies, noting that during the same quarter, Germany contracted by 0.4%, and Japan contracted by 2.1%. The Finance Minister underscored India’s robust economic growth amidst challenges faced by various nations in the post-pandemic era, marked by geopolitical conflicts and declining demand.
Addressing concerns raised by opposition members during the discussion, Sitharaman asserted that all sectors of the Indian economy are performing well, with both services and manufacturing contributing significantly. She cited a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report, pointing out that ‘Made-In-India’ products are gaining prominence in American supermarkets.
The Finance Minister attributed this success to the government’s ‘Make-in-India’ initiative and the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme. Sitharaman emphasized that manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) has been in expansionary territory for 29 consecutive months, indicating a positive trend in the manufacturing sector.
Taking a dig at the previous UPA government, Sitharaman mentioned that schemes introduced for ‘Naam ke Vaaste’ (just for the sake of name) are now meaningful and reaching the intended beneficiaries. She highlighted the positive impact of various central schemes, including the success of the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (MUDRA) and PM SVANidhi in promoting self-employment, particularly among the lower sections of society.
Responding to criticism from senior Congress leader P Chidambaram regarding unemployment, Sitharaman presented government data to refute the claims. She stated that the worker population ratio has increased to 56% in 2022-23 from 46.8% in 2017-18, and youth unemployment rate has declined to 10% in 2022-23 from 17.8% in 2017-18.
In defense of the government’s inflation management, Sitharaman assured that suitable measures had been taken to ensure the sufficient availability of food items by adjusting trade policies.
The Finance Minister concluded by reaffirming that the fundamentals of the Indian economy remain strong, reflected in high economic growth, increased foreign investment, and a stable currency.
The short-duration discussion in the Rajya Sabha saw participation from 60 MPs, with members of the ruling party highlighting government achievements and opposition members raising concerns about various economic aspects, including inflation, jobs, and household savings.